Get in Shape with Walking

Walking and Exercise Shape-up Workouts

Walking Workouts
Walking Workouts. Steve Debenport/Creative RF/Getty Images

Do you want to use walking to build your aerobic fitness, endurance, and strength? If walking is your favorite exercise activity, it can be the base to build on for a more complete shape-up program.

Walking by itself is cardiovascular exercise. Walkers can improve their aerobic conditioning by building their speed and following a program of a variety of interval, heart-rate guided, and endurance workouts.

Moderate to vigorous intensity cardio workouts burn calories and fat while reducing health risks.

Walking Shape-up Program

Equipment suggested: exercise ball, dumbbells, resistance bands. You can use a treadmill or walk indoors or outdoors.

You can mix up this schedule, but the goal is to have a challenging day followed by an easier recovery day, and to work different muscle groups on different days.

Monday: Warm-up by walking for 5-15 minutes. Perform strength workouts for core, upper body, and quads.

Tuesday: Speed Building Walking Workout: Interval walk to help build speed. Perform a stretching routine after warm-up or as a separate activity.

Wednesday: Recovery walk: an easy health walk of 30-60 minutes. Core, upper body, and quads workout.

Thursday: Threshold Walking Workout: This is a walk at nearly top speed sustained for 50 minutes, or a walk with high speed for eight minutes, with a slow down for two minutes, repeated 3-4 times.

It builds aerobic fitness.

Friday: Recovery walk: an easy health walk of 30-60 minutes. Core and upper body workout.

Saturday: Cross training such as bicycling, which works the opposing leg muscles.

Sunday: Distance Walking Workout.

Muscle and Strength Workouts

Core Strength: Walking relies on the core and abdominal muscles for good posture, which is essential for speed and walking form.

But walking by itself won't work the core, this must be done as a separate workout activity.

Opposing Leg Muscles: Walking works the hamstrings, glutes, and shin muscles. But it does little for the quadriceps, the big muscles at the front of the thighs which are important for knee health. For complete lower body shape-ups, walkers need to add crosstraining activities that work the quads, such as bicycling, step-ups, and squats.

Upper Body: Walking doesn't work the upper body. Walkers need to add an upper body workout as a separate workout. It is unwise to carry hand weights to try to try to do an upper body workout while walking. It is more effective to do this while standing still.

Flexibility and Balance: Walking outdoors on a variety of surfaces helps keep the body's sense of balance in tune. Stretching and dynamic flexibility exercises can be added to a walking workout after a five minute warm-up at an easy walking pace. But further flexibility and balance exercises can be added to a workout that includes upper body, core, and opposing leg muscle exercises. Performing a core and upper body exercises on an exercise ball or fitness disk can add balance training to those workouts.

Diet: Shape-up your eating as well as your exercise. Aim to increase your fresh vegetables and fruits and balance proteins, carbohydrates and fats. If you want to lose fat and gain lean muscle, keeping a food diary can help you spot empty calories. 

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