5 Tips to Maximize Your Walking Workout

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Maximize your walking workout with added benefits by adding these strategies to your walking routine.

1. Add intervals

Interval training involves alternating short bursts of more intense activity with what is called active recovery1 (when you bring your activity level back down to a more moderate level). To add Intervals to your walk, you can simply walk at a faster pace for a short period, then return to a more moderate pace, then repeat the sequence. An example of this would be to warm up, then walk at a moderate pace for 2-minutes, followed by a faster pace for 1-minute, alternating 2- minutes moderate pace with 1-minute faster pace or vice versa. You can also add intervals without a timer. For example, walk faster to the end of the block, more moderately past 5 mailboxes, faster to the next tree, more moderately to the blue car, etc.

2. Include your upper body

You can add a lot to your walking routine by including your upper body. This can be done by swinging your arms with good form. Be sure to swing from the shoulders, not the elbows. Swinging your arms intentionally can work your arms, shoulders, chest, and back, while also facilitating the movement of your legs, propelling you forward.2 You can also try adding Nordic walking poles to your walking workout to add variety and improve your upper-body strength, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility.3

3. Use your terrain

A great way to add to your workout is to walk on different surfaces and add incline. You can easily add incline and “hill” workouts on a treadmill. You can also do this outside. Look for places in your community where you can vary your terrain. Is there a place with hills (even small ones can add to your workout)? Look for nature trails, green belts, or sandy beaches to challenge your muscles. Climb stairs or stadium steps to add a lot of muscle activation to your walking workout.

4. Incorporate some resistance

A great way to add a little resistance training to your walk is to choose a midpoint in your walking workout and utilize what’s there to do some bodyweight exercises (exercises that use your own body weight to create resistance). Try to find a place that has a bench, fence post, wall, safe curb, step, playground equipment, or outdoor fitness circuit equipment. Utilize the equipment to add some resistance exercises. Some ideas might include:

  • Standing pushups on a wall, fence post, or stable playground equipment
  • Tricep dips or incline pushups on a bench, step, or curb
  • Wall sits leaning against a stable wall, fence post, or piece of play equipment
  • Planks or pushups on a rubber playground surface
  • Chin-ups or pull-ups using the monkey bars.

You can also use the outdoor fitness circuit if there is one. For added benefit, have some fun using the monkey bars or pumping your legs on the swing set (active play adds to your workout).

5. Go a little further

Anytime we can extend our workout we are benefitting our bodies. Try to walk just one block further each day. Consider a destination walk. You can choose something purposeful, like walking to a store, school, or office where you need to complete an errand, or just stay motivated by choosing a location you want to reach. Change your route and destination often to keep things interesting and challenge your body to go just a little further.

Want some help going a little further? Why not gather a team of friends, family, or coworkers to Walk Across Texas or even take a Walk Through Texas History? It’s FREE! Learn more about all our physical activity programs here.


  1. American Council on Exercise. Interval Training. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/6615/interval-training/. Published January 8, 2009. Accessed February 6, 2023.
  2. Wilson MA. Walking and arm pumping – a total body workout. Sit and Be Fit. https://www.sitandbefit.org/walking-arm-pumping/. Published October 25, 2021. Accessed February 6, 2023.
  3. Takeshima N, Islam MM, Rogers ME, et al. Effects of nordic walking compared to conventional walking and band-based resistance exercise on fitness in older adults. J Sports Sci Med. 2013;12(3):422-430. Published 2013 Sep 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3772584/