Before I begin, I must stress that I am not a fitness expert. Before starting any weight loss or fitness regimen, you should consult with your doctor and/or fitness coach. That aside, I’ve managed to lose 92 pounds in just under 5 months. The majority of my workouts have consisted of low impact aerobic walking. What is low impact? Low impact exercises involve little stress on the body and joints. It excludes things like jogging and jumping. It includes things like walking, biking, and swimming. Low impact exercises can become high intensity, particularly when using a full range of motion.
One of my favorite things to do is walk outdoors, but a simple stroll around town may not be challenging enough to get that heart rate raised. Here are a few things that I do while walking outdoors that not only get me all sweaty, but also get more muscle involved:
Listen to Music with a Fast Beat
It’s really easy to increase the speed of your walking when you’ve got a quick beat to fall into. Try finding something fun and light. If the majority of the music you listen to is slow and somber, check out the weekly Hot 100 for some ideas.
Use Your Water Bottle as a Weight
If you don’t have dumbbells or feel self-conscious about carrying dumbbells on your outdoor walk; utilize your water bottle instead! While pumping your arms, carry the bottle sideways in one hand (so the weight of the water is somewhat balanced throughout). Contract the muscles in the arm you’re using as you pump it. Alternate between both arms at whatever length of time is comfortable for you.
Make it a Dance Walk
A lot of the things I do while walking outdoors may appear silly to onlookers, but people may not be as critical as you might think. Your high energy may actually inspire them, and it’s a great way to meet people. They may wonder what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. The answer for that is simple: You’re trying to raise your heart rate and use as many muscles as you can! If you know a few dance moves, or even if you don’t, try to incorporate that into your walking. It’s a fun way to get your heart pumping!
Get Those Arms Moving
I do a lot of different arm movements while I’m walking, and it really pays off. I’ve lost a noticeable amount of weight in my upper arms, shoulders, and neck. Pumping the arms back and forth is the most obvious option, but you can take it up a notch by really swaying those arms. Instead of bending at the elbow, keep your arms straightened and push one arm forward and one behind you. Your hands can be relaxed or they can be clenched — whatever is comfortable for you.
Another thing I do with my arms is flatten my palms and push downward from side-to-side. As I’m walking, I slowly bring the arms up while pushing the entire time. I continue to push from side-to-side until the arms are up and out in front of me, pushing forward. Gradually, I let my arms push above, which makes a “raising the roof” type of motion. Once I’ve got my arms all the way up, I gradually bring them down. Elbows should be somewhat soft or bent. If you contract your muscles while doing so, you can actually get pretty sore! A less intense version of this would be to simply raise both arms up, slowly, and then bring them back down.
Try Some Knee Lifts
As you’re walking forward; continue to alternate between taking a step and then lifting a knee. Lift that knee up as close to your chest as you can get. Then take a step or two and switch to the other leg. Or, for higher intensity, you can do a knee lift with every step — which should look like you’re doing exaggerated marching.