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3 ways to enhance your walking workouts

July 1, 2021

Interval and Nordic walking can ramp up your fitness, while mindful walking can alleviate stress.

The beauty of walking for exercise is that it requires no special skills or equipment other than a comfy, supportive pair of shoes. The downside: it can get a little tedious. To break through your boredom, try reinvigorating your walking regimen with some new twists on this popular form of exercise.

"All steps count. But some count a little more than others," says Dr. Edward Phillips, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. For example, if you add short bursts of fast walking to your strolls, that elevates your heart rate and improves your cardiorespiratory fitness more than if you simply stayed at a slower pace, he says. Pick up a pair of Nordic poles to use during your walk, and you’ll engage many more muscles and burn more calories. Or you can use walking as an opportunity to practice mindfulness, a mind-calming practice that can help you release stress.

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Walking for Health

The simple activity of walking has so many powerful health benefits. Done correctly, it can be the key to losing weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and boosting your memory, as well as reducing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more. Walking for Health, created by the experts at Harvard Medical School, takes you step-by-step from why walking may be the most perfect exercise, to how to get started on a walking program, to specific walking workouts. It even has a special section on walking for weight loss.

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