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Walking-Poles

Ideally, a good fitness program includes strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility training. But if you enjoy walking, it’s possible to vary your intensity and terrain in ways that support your goals.

“Walking is a great low-impact, weight-bearing activity that can help keep your bones strong and exercise major muscle groups,” says Mark Fenton, Tufts University adjunct associate professor and author of The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness.

If you’re a beginner looking to improve your health, walking just 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. If you’re a more advanced exerciser who wants to improve your aerobic capacity, or if you want to trigger weight loss, you can incorporate more high-intensity interval training by walking quickly up a steep incline, or carrying some weight.

One of the nice things about walking is that it’s easy on the joints. “You can walk quickly and get your heart rate up high, yet not risk injury related to impact,” says Fenton.

At some point, though, you’ll get the most benefit from expanding your fitness repertoire. For more advice on that, see ELmag.com/fitnesseducation.

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