Daily walks have been a saving grace for many people in this pandemic. And now with the weather getting warmer, you’ll probably want to extend those walks even more to enjoy the sunshine. But if you’re looking to challenge yourself the next time you take a stroll outside, one easy switch could not only help you build your fitness level but burn a few extra calories, too.
The health benefits of walking are truly endless. It’s incredibly helpful for everything from lowering your blood pressure to losing weight, and it’s an easy way to get moving without fear of injury that can come from certain other exercises. Plus, walking is versatile: You can zone out while you listen to music, stroll along with a friend, or do a more intense interval walking workout to really get your blood pumping.
So, how can you make sure you’re getting the most out of your walks? The answer is simple: Focus on taking shorter strides. In doing so, you’ll have to expend more energy to propel yourself forward, which will in turn increase your heart rate and help you burn more fat in the process. Plus, it’ll make you more aware of your intensity.
Often when we walk every day, we have a tendency to create a longer stride length and cadence to conserve the most energy. From a biological perspective, that makes sense, right? Of course we wouldn’t want to waste energy throughout our day. But when you’re trying to build your fitness level or lose weight (or both!), falling into that same old rhythm can plateau your progress. That’s why shortening your stride can make a huge difference. Just make sure to consistently focus on it during your first couple of walks so that you don’t fall back into your longer step routine.
Moreover, researchers also found that older people require a shorter walking stride and quicker cadence so that the body sees the same fitness results as younger people walking at a slower pace. This is due to the fact that it takes more effort to get the body to stay active and build muscle as we age.
So the next time you’re taking a saunter outside, try to not make your strides so long and see what happens. You’ll definitely feel challenged immediately!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.