So many people get outside to walk for the purpose of exercise, but also for fresh air, to see other people, and to get out of the house for a change of scenery. There are so many benefits to getting out. If you are one of those people who gets out regularly, there is something you can do to give yourself some extra benefits.
When the majority of people go out for a walk outside, or on the treadmill, they often go at the same pace for the same amount of time each day. You are definitely still getting heart-healthy exercise which will lower your blood sugars, burn calories and provide you with mental health benefits, but you could get more out of that walk.
One way is through ‘fartlek’ training which is a Swedish word meaning ‘speed play’. Fartlek training is similar to interval training. The difference is that fartlek training is unstructured, meaning no timed or measured segments. It is easy for anyone to include this type of training in a regular walk. All you need to do is ensure you warm up properly (5-10 minutes), and then increase your pace for any period of time you wish. That might mean 15 seconds, 30 seconds or a minute. Just increase the pace, and then slow it down again for 1-2 minutes. When you feel ready, increase the pace again. You could also measure your times by going fast until the next pole or tree you come up to, or stop sign, or anything you decide upon. Then slow down at the next object you choose, and then pick up your pace again and so on. By changing up your pace throughout your usual 20 minute walk (or whatever length of time you go), you are providing your body with a better workout overall compared to going at the same pace throughout the whole walk. It will also make the walk more interesting and it’ll feel like you’re done in no time.
A great way to start is by doing fartlek training every 2nd or 3rd day (if you walk every day). You can also do fartlek training on a stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical and even while swimming. Give it a try! You should see an improvement in your physical fitness and endurance, and will soon be able to walk faster and for longer periods.