5 ways to boost the health benefits of walking

11 May 2020

The health benefits of walking are often underrated, but it’s one of the best ways to increase your activity levels, lose weight, boost your metabolism and help build your resilience.

And did you know there are simple things you can do to strengthen and tone your legs, bottom, and abdominal muscles as you go, giving even more added value to your walk?

“Whether you’re new to exercise and want to become more active, or you simply want to supplement an existing exercise routine, there are many benefits of regular walking that you may not have realised. Not only good for flexibility, joint mobility, coordination and for lifting your mood and improving your energy, it has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and certain cancers”, says David Williams, fitness expert here at AXA PPP healthcare.

What’s more, one of the best things about walking is that you don’t need any special fitness equipment - just a pair of sturdy, comfortable shoes and you’re good to go.

Walking contributes towards your 30 minutes of recommended daily physical activity. So to get the most health benefits from walking, you should do it every day, aiming to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular activity each week (walking quickly to help increase your heart rate). The duration of each bout of activity doesn’t matter, as long as you accumulate at least 150 minutes across the course of the week.

Here are our top 5 tips to increase the health benefits of your walk

1. Speed up

Walk at ‘race pace’ to get your heart rate going.

To do this, start walking and increase your pace every 30 seconds until you are just about to break into a jog – this is your maximum walking pace.

2. Bottom lift and leg toner

Simply walk by taking a longer stride, just as if you are stepping over a big puddle. Aim to do this for 20 steps. The benefit of this is the increased range of movement through your hips will lift and sculpt your bottom and your thighs.

3. Ankle definer

Every time you reach a point on your walk where you see a beautiful view, stop and stand with your feet hip width distance apart so that your body is straight. Now slowly lift both heels off the floor so you rise up onto your tiptoes, hold for a second then slowly lower. Aim to do 20 of these. This will help sculpt through your ankles and lower legs and improve your balance.

4. The tummy toner

This simple exercise is great for toning deep into your abdominals and drawing in your waist. While walking or standing, pull your belly button in tight towards your spine and hold for 10 seconds. Use a prompt to remind yourself to keep doing this – say every time you see a certain tree, or animal, or even simply every 5th minute.

5. Formation walking

If you are doing a group walk, then add a fun fitness challenge by walking in a line, one behind the other. The person at the back has to overtake everyone by walking faster to reach the front and keep walking faster to keep in front while the next person at the back tries to reach the front. Keep this going and it not only makes a walk fun but, most of all, encourages everyone to walk that little bit faster so you get a great work-out.