Walking is an easy way to exercise and burn a few calories. It’s one of the ways to get a workout in while social distancing. There are calculators online to help you estimate how many calories you are burning per mile based on your weight and age and gender. An average woman weighing 140 pounds burns 222 calories per hour at an easy pace of 2.5 miles an hour. Walking for exercise gets you outside into the fresh air and helps your mind and mood. You can also use current guidelines in place for social distancing and go with someone else for a little chit chat. Your dog, if you have one, will be thrilled to accompany you too. There are several ways to get more out of your walk.
Varying your speed during your walk will help burn more calories and change things up a bit. You’ll cover more ground and see more places and things. You can use a fitness tracker to set specific times to speed up a little or a lot. You can also just decide as you go to light a little fire in your step. Challenge yourself to cover more ground and reward yourself with a rest in the middle or something else you enjoy as a reward (besides eating a sundae).
Adding weight to your walk has several benefits. First, you burn more calories. Second, if you are considering hiking or backpacking you’ll be better prepared to hit the trail. Make sure to find a comfortable backpack. Add a little weight at first and then increase. The rule of thumb for a backpacker is not to exceed 20% of your body weight. So no more than 28 pounds for someone who weighs 140 pounds. Carrying a backpack with weight burns about double the calories you do without a backpack. The extra benefit with adding a backpack is that you can carry water with you and have a handy place to put your phone, keys, yoga mat or any other extras you might not bring without one. You can easily hook a personal defense weapon on your strap too, if necessary. For those not interested in carrying a backpack, you can grab some hand weights or wear a weighted vest and still get the extra burn.
Another way exercise effectively while walking is to include some hills. Hills get your heart rate going and makes your body work harder, making for a better workout. Don’t jump in at first with super steep hills, just find a place where you aren’t on the flatlands. If you can’t find hills, you can typically find stairs. Be creative! You can usually find an incline at a football field or a ponding basin. Doing some hills can increase your calorie burn by about the same as carrying a pack.
If you really want to get fancy, you can add in a few bodyweight or dance moves during your walk. Add a few standing pushups, calf raises and a lunge or squat along the way. All of these will burn more calories than a simple walk, and you’ll be improving your agility and balance.
Finally, if you really want to use the gas in your tank, try all three suggestions. Grab your backpack, find some inclines and turn on the burners a bit. Then throw in a few bodyweight moves, and you’ll create a whole new walk game. Don’t get too excited and overload your backpack while speedwalking the hills or you’ll simply hurt yourself. Try one at a time until you are comfortable or bored. Pick certain days for each suggestion and reward yourself at the end of the week with a leisurely walk without a backpack on flat ground. You will still be burning more calories than staying home. You might even surprise yourself and end up going an extra mile or two!