Whether you’re trying to get in shape for the first time or easing back into a fitness routine after a break, jumping right into more intense workouts can be daunting. You don’t want to risk injury, and it can take time to build your endurance and stamina. That’s one reason walking is such a good place to start. You can do it anytime and anywhere, and in spite of it being so simple, you’ll still reap cardiovascular benefits, Jeff Bell, an ACE-, NASM-, and ACSM-certified trainer at Belleon Body NYC, told POPSUGAR.
But while walking can be good exercise, you’ll need to put in some effort to get there. “The key to walking and making it exercise, versus mode of transportation, is intent and amount of exertion,” said Hector Bones, an exercise physiologist, ACE-certified trainer, and owner of The PrivatGym in Philadelphia. “I would not put going for a stroll in the category of walking exercise.”
So, what does count? “Walking exercise is going a little faster than your normal pace, feeling your heart beat pick up, and not being able to say a complete sentence with ease,” Hector said.
Jeff suggests walking hills and other terrain to strengthen your lower body, including your quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings. “Make walking challenging enough that you have to use your arms to propel you at the speed and distance necessary in order to strengthen the upper body, too,” he said. “Focus on posture by standing upright, not stooped over. Drive through with the hips and thighs, and practice lengthening your stride.” Now you’re really doing the work.