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7 Ways to Burn More Calories When You Walk

There are right ways and wrong ways to increase your calorie burn while walking. Use these tips for a safe, effective workout.

By Michele Stanten

Anyone trying to lose weight often has the same question: How can I speed up weight loss safely?

Luckily, walking is a versatile activity, and there are many techniques to bump up your calorie burn with just a little bit more effort. Start by mastering the basics of walking, and once you’re ready for a challenge, try any of these tips.

Tip #1: Go Faster

When you speed up, your calorie burn increases. You don’t need special equipment, and you can do this whether you’re on a treadmill or outside. As with any exercise, maintaining good form is key—and will maximize your results.

Tip #2: Count Your Steps

This is a great exercise to do during an interval walk. During your fast interval, count the number of steps you take. Remember that number, and do it again on the next interval—and aim to take a few extra steps. The more steps you take, the faster you’re going.

If you’re not doing intervals, simply time yourself for 30 or 60 seconds, and count your steps. Remember this number, and over time you want to see it increase.

Tip #3: Pick a Spot

If you’re walking outside, find a tree, sign, or building—any stationary object ahead of you—and zero in on it. In a study, walkers who focused on an object ahead of them walked 23 percent faster than walkers who were looking around. Bonus: The focused walkers reported that their workout felt easier even though they were going faster.

Tip #4: Listen to Music

Download some upbeat tunes, and start walking. Energizing music just makes you want to move, and a fast beat has been shown to make you walk faster. That’s why all the SilverSneakers Million Pound Challenge audio walks are set to fun, upbeat music. Here are a few to get you started:

If you’re walking outside, keep the volume low or use only one earbud to stay safe.

Tip #5: Catch Someone

This strategy is similar to “Pick a Spot.” This time, you’re going to pick a person who is walking ahead of you instead of a stationary object. Find that person, pick up the pace, and try to catch up to them. It creates a sense of healthy competition—and the person doesn’t even have to know that they’re in a race with you. Once you catch them, pick your next target and go.

Tip #6: Go Vertical

Find a hill or increase the incline on your treadmill just a little bit. Depending on the incline, you could increase your calorie burn by up to 60 percent. And hills are a great way to firm your glutes and legs. No hills or treadmill? Find a staircase.

Tip #7: Try Walking Poles

By adding poles when you walk, you’ll activate your upper body and burn up to 25 percent more calories. Plus, you’ll tone your arms and shoulders.

Bonus Tip: Don’t Carry Weights

Yes, carrying weights while you walk may burn some extra calories—but it can also increase your risk for shoulder, elbow, and wrist injuries. And any extra calories you burn could be negated if you slow your pace because of the extra weight. Save those dumbbells for strength training!

Note: The exercises in these workouts may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. Please consult your physician before beginning a physical activity program to make sure it’s safe for you.

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