Do you love your daily stroll around the park or your neighborhood to look at the birds and smell the flowers in bloom? Well, that’s perfect because here’s a bonus: Walking may be all the exercise you need to keep your heart healthy. Just one hour of walking burns approximately 300 calories!
While every step helps, increasing your energy during your walk will enhance the benefits. In addition, walking is even better for your heart when you can incorporate different movements to get your body moving.
Consider these unique ways to walk for heart health, and take someone along with you for the stroll to keep you motivated.
1. GO BACKWARD
You might not be able to move as quickly, but walking backward will get you to use the muscles you usually don’t. Specifically, it can help strengthen the muscles at the back of your thighs, which is especially important to prevent knee and hip arthritis or osteoporosis.
Walking is an enjoyable and beneficial exercise for heart health.
2. WALKING LUNGES
As you walk, take large steps and bring your other knee to the ground in a lunging motion. You’ll strengthen the muscles in the front of your thighs, as well as increase the mobility in your knees and ankles. It will also further assist with balance and coordination, which is especially helpful for seniors.
Note that lunges can be very challenging, so don’t expect too much from yourself. You might only be able to do a few at a time, but with practice, your legs will grow stronger.
3. TAP ‘N CLAP
This type of walk can be considered a full-body workout or even a dance that gets everyone watching. As you’re walking, lift your knees higher than you usually would and tap one knee with one hand at a time. Try clapping in between taps. In addition to working your legs and arms, it’s a fun way to exercise your coordination skills.
4. CARRY DUMBBELLS
Your arms naturally move when you walk, so carrying a 2-pound dumbbell in each hand during your walk will allow you to build arm strength at the same time. The natural motion with the weights in your hands will likely add a little bounce to your step.
The more energetic your walk is, the more benefits you will gain. Carrying dumbbells during your walk gives you the added benefit of building those arm muscles. Having someone you love walking with you makes it all that much better.
5. PLAY GAMES
Walking for heart health is more fun when you bring someone along. When you do, you can play fun games like “20 Questions” or “I Spy.” You can even collect rocks or try to find clouds that look like animals.
Whatever you can do to make your walk more enjoyable will motivate you to continue toward better health.
6. WALK IN THE WOODS
Speaking of paths, get off the beaten ones and try a nature walk. Walking on gravel or dirt differs from walking on cement, which can help you further increase balance and coordination. Choose trails that are not overly rocky or sloped to avoid tripping.
Try identifying trees or flowers you see while walking. The above are only a few ways to make walking for heart health more enjoyable and beneficial. You see, it doesn’t matter so much how, how long, or where you walk – as long as you get moving.
Not every activity is ideal for every person, even as simple as walking. Be sure to listen to your body as you are exercising. It will tell you if you are overexerting or hurting yourself.