Many people are now familiar with the recommendation of 10,000 steps a day. Because you move a lot in everyday life, you do something good for your health. But you can do even more: with small changes, the walk becomes a real fitness booster. FITBOOK explains what you need to be aware of.
You should walk 10,000 steps a day – this guideline has probably come across this guideline for most people who strive for a healthy lifestyle. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 65 take just these 10,000 steps a day or at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day.1 This reduces your risk of obesity and associated diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease significantly. But what if you not only want to be healthy, but also want to keep fit – without going to the gym? FITBOOK has put together tips on how to get even more out of a walk and turn it into a real fitness booster.
Weights in hand
Unfortunately, the upper body is neglected when walking – while the body muscles are still being trained, the muscles on the shoulders and arms have a break. There is a simple remedy: Gather weights! It is best to grab small dumbbells weighing 0.5 kg while swinging with your arms. Alternatively, cuffs with weights can be attached to the wrists. This especially strengthens the arm muscles. In addition, the metabolism is boosted. Because, as the researchers found, just swinging with your arms has a positive effect on your metabolism, but only at medium and fast walking speeds.2
Caution: Do not use this fitness booster while running! Experts agree that extra weight when jogging is bad for your health. They cause the running style to deteriorate and the load on the joints increases. It is therefore not advisable to carry weights when jogging. When walking, on the other hand, they can be used briefly to strengthen the muscles. Be sure to walk upright and not bend your wrists. If you experience painful strain on the wrist, stop using weights and seek expert advice (eg sports medicine doctor, physiotherapist).
Also interesting: Can 10,000 steps a day really replace exercise?
2. Vary the speed
When you walk, you have a very simple parameter at your disposal to get more out of your fitness: walking speed. When you increase your running speed, you not only burn more calories, but you also increase your fat metabolism and improve your endurance. You do not have to break all the time. It is enough to vary your speed and occasionally increase your pace for a few minutes.
It has also been proven that walking speed is an important indicator of general fitness and health. Therefore, it is also considered among the so-called vital signs.3 So make a conscious effort to increase the pace and go faster.
Also interesting: Almost no strenuous exercise reduces body fat best
3. Walk on toes
Not only can you vary your pace, you can also vary your walking style. A very simple exercise to strengthen your calves is to walk on toes. You will immediately feel the tension in the calf muscles. In addition, you can also consciously tighten the buttock muscles while walking and thus train the buttocks. Walking on toes also strengthens the foot muscles. A simple exercise to hit multiple flies with one swipe. So: No mercy for the calf!
Also interesting: laying training – tips for training with and without equipment
4. Do not miss the stairs
A very effective way to increase fitness while walking is to take the stairs from time to time. Or to put it better: do not miss a chance to use the stairs. Studies have shown that it can improve endurance and the cardiovascular system.4 The fitness boost is immediately noticeable through the increased breathing rate. Especially the thighs and buttocks are trained. Therefore, in the future, avoid using aids that help overcome height differences (elevator, escalators, etc.) when walking as often as possible, and consciously integrate stairs on your way. Many parks with view hills provide an ideal opportunity to spice up the walk. Ambitious people run up and down several times – it benefits fitness and health.
Also interesting: Is it always healthy to walk on stairs?
5. Look for hilly routes
For people in mountainous areas, it is part of everyday life to cope with hikes. Just like climbing stairs, this also ensures an increased heart rate and breathing rate, thus strengthening the cardiovascular system. So consciously choose places to go that have hikes. Parks in cities usually also offer this option. If you do not choose the (easy) flat route, but instead the (demanding) hilly route, you will experience a true fitness boost.
Also interesting: The effect of going after a meal on blood sugar levels
6. Go backwards in between
Several studies have shown that walking backwards not only improves walking style, but also improves the balance and mobility of both children and adults who have had a stroke.5.6 Balance training in particular also protects older people from falls. Anyone who regularly walks backwards for a few minutes improves their overall gait. But try it carefully first, preferably with a training partner. If you feel confident, you can also try looking back over your shoulder on your own. This is not only a useful exercise, but also makes walking fun.
- WHO: guidelines for physical activity in the Pacific for adults (accessed 27.01.2022)
- 2. Thomas SA, Vega D, Arellano CJ (2021). Do humans take advantage of the metabolic and mechanical benefits of arm swings over slow to fast walking speeds? J Biomech.
- 3. Middleton A, Fritz SL, Lusardi M (2015). Walking speed: the functional vital sign. J Aging Phys Act.
- 4. Meyer P, Kayser B, Mach F (2009). Stair use for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. EUR J
- 5. Rose DK, DeMark L, Fox EJ, Clark DJ, Wludyka P (2018). Reverse gait training program to improve balance and mobility in acute stroke: a randomized controlled pilot trial. J Neurol Phys Ther.
- 6. Hao WY, Chen Y (2011). Backward walking training improves the balance of boys of school age. Sports With Arthrosc Rehab Ther Technol.