The following walking workouts will help you sculpt your fittest, slimmest body yet!
Whether you want to burn fat, boost energy, lift mood, or just be a bit more toned in a few important places, we have the workouts for you. They’ve all been road tested by Prevention readers and are ready to deliver fast results. Pick your goal and discover new, fun ways to achieve it. Michele Stanten, author of Walk Off Weight, designed several of these workouts.
We’ve organized the tips and walking workouts by specific goals. Choose the one that’s right for you, and start working toward your fittest body ever!
Download the free printable PDF for a portable guide.
Pair your walking workout with delicious recipes found in the New Deluxe Edition of The Sugar Smart Diet.
You could shrink a size (or more) this month by adding high-intensity walks to your routine. You’ll burn more fat during and after your cardio workouts. And there are options to fit everyone’s needs—a 10-minute routine for busy days and an indoor option for rainy weather. For best results, do at least 20 minutes of high-intensity walking (any combo of the workouts in this section or any of the hill or stair routines in the following sections—the longer walks will slim you down faster) on 3 nonconsecutive days a week. On alternate days, do moderate-intensity activity for about 30 minutes per session.
Time: 30 minutes
Treadmills are the perfect excuse buster—no need to worry about weather, traffic, or darkness. Seeing your speed increase as you become more fit is also a huge motivator. Try this routine from Lee Scott, creator of the DVD Simple Steps for a Great Walking Workout, to blast more than 150 calories* in half an hour.
Start at a comfortable speed. Increase 0.6 mph from there for Phase 1 speed intervals. For each subsequent phase, increase your speed intervals by 0.2 mph. *Calorie burn is based on a 150-pound person and will vary depending on weight, walking speed, and workout duration.
Time: 25 to 30 minutes
The quicker you walk, the farther you can go and the more pounds you’ll melt off. Here’s a fun routine that burns as many as 175 calories. The workout: After warming up for 5 minutes, walk as fast as you can for 10 minutes. Note how far you went. Then turn around and walk back at a brisk pace, slowing your speed to cool down as you get closer to your starting point. Each time you do this workout, aim to walk faster and go farther than your initial turnaround point.
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Time: 60+ minutes (Perfect for the weekend!)
Hour-plus workouts can crank up your post-exercise calorie burn nearly fivefold, compared with a 30-minute walk. That’s on top of the nearly 350 calories you’ll melt during your walk. This can also get you in shape to take on a bigger goal, such as a half marathon (13.1 miles) or a multiday fundraising walk. It’s also a social way to slim down: Plan your route so you meet up with friends, and walk with each for part of your route. “Meeting someone along the way helped keep me from getting bored,” says Prevention reader Kim Kline of Jefferson City, MO.
Time: 10+ minutes
High-intensity workouts like the ones in this section can shrink five times more belly fat than moderate-intensity workouts. To zero in on shaping your abs, use these tips during any walk:
- Focus on drawing your abs in toward your spine. Try to maintain the contraction throughout your walk, but don’t hold your breath.
- Imagine that your legs extend up above your navel. As one leg swings forward and back, that hip should follow. This slight hip swivel causes your lower torso to rotate, activating more ab muscles to tighten your midsection faster.
Time: 10 minutes (Time-saver!)
Crank up the intensity with metabolism-revving bursts of high-impact activities. You’ll burn nearly 70% more calories than if you walked at a steady pace.
Anytime you need a quick pick-me-up, try one of these routines. Even a 10-minute stroll can instantly recharge your energy by increasing circulation. Go for 30 minutes and you could get a whopping 85% energy boost, research shows. And to really wake up your body and brain, try these stimulating walks that get your mind and senses working. The good feeling may last up to 12 hours! Whether your goal is to lose weight, firm up, or get healthy, these workouts can help.
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Time: 10+ minutes
Revitalize your mind and body with an easy walk that includes these stress-busting techniques from Carolyn Scott Kortge, author of Healing Walks for Hard Times. The longer you walk, the more benefits you’ll see. Says Prevention reader Lisa DiMarzio of Ware, MA: “When I tried it after a tense meeting, I felt calm almost immediately instead of reliving the event that made me stressed.”
Step 1: Focus on your feet. Feel the firm ground beneath you as each foot rolls from heel to toe. Try to hold awareness of your steps for 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 2: Turn your attention to breathing. Lift your torso to stand upright and increase lung space. As you inhale, imagine you are drawing in renewed energy. Exhale tiredness and pain. Let fresh life flow into your lungs and your cells.
Step 3: Mentally talk to yourself. Thinking Fresh air in, stale air out as you breathe can help you maintain focus.
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Time: Under 20 minutes
Changing the direction you walk—forward, backward, or sideways—keeps your mind alert, turns up your calorie burn, and activates some often-underused muscles, such as your outer and inner thighs. This routine is best done on a school track (most are ¼-mile around).
Lap 1: Start at the beginning of the curved part of the track. Walk as you normally would to warm up for a full lap.
Lap 2: Turn sideways so right foot is in front. Sidestep or shuffle around the curved part of the track. Walk backward on the straight section. Sidestep through the next curve with left foot in front. Walk forward on the straight section.
Lap 3: Repeat lap 2, walking sideways, backward, sideways, and forward.
Lap 4: Walk forward, slowing your pace to cool down. This is a 1-mile walk if you use a ¼-mile track. You can do more laps to extend it or work up to doing half or even full laps of each type of walking.
Time: 5+ minutes
A dose of nature can boost your mood and energize you in just 5 minutes. If you exercise in a natural setting and go longer (a lunchtime stroll in a park or an all-day hike in the mountains), you can improve your memory and attention 20% more than you can by walking in an urban environment. That’s because there are fewer distractions and it’s more relaxing. To find off-road walking routes in your area, go to trails.com.
By adding some toning exercises or techniques to your routine, you can turn walks into total-body workouts and shape your legs and butt even faster. Aim to target each body area two or three times a week. For example, do the Sculpt All Over workout once or twice a week, and do a lower-body and an upper-body routine (or two) on alternate days. Don’t work the same muscle groups on back-to-back days. For speedier firming, do walking routines from other sections on in-between days to melt flab and show off your sexy muscles.
Use a pair of walking poles ($90 and up). Research shows they can boost calorie burn by up to 46% and get your arms and core involved for allover firming. The poles also reduce impact on your joints. Go to nordicwalkingna.com for more information.
Time: 25 minutes
No outdoor hills to give your glutes a workout? Here’s a fun treadmill routine from Tracey Staehle, a Connecticut-based trainer and creator of the DVD Walking Strong. Reports Prevention reader Carrie Pasquale of Petal, MS: “I could really feel it in my butt.” You can do the full 25-minute routine or just one or two of the 5-minute hill climbs for a shorter session.
Time: 20 minutes
Grab an exercise band and do these moves while you walk to firm your upper body. Download the arm exercises here.
The workout: Start with 4 minutes of easy walking. Then pick up your pace to a moderate intensity and do the first exercise for 25 reps. When you’re finished, drape the resistance band around your neck and speed up to a brisk pace, like you’re in a hurry, for 2 minutes. Repeat the 25-rep toning/2-minute brisk-walking intervals until you’ve done all the exercises. Cool down with 4 minutes of easy walking. You can make moves harder by placing hands closer together so you’re using less band, or easier by separating hands for more slack.
Time: 16+ minutes (Outdoor challenge!)
Walking uphill activates 25% more muscle fibers for faster firming than strolling on flat terrain. For best results, find a hill that takes 2 to 2½ minutes to climb and try this workout from Judy Heller, a certified personal trainer and master race walker in Portland, OR.
The workout: Warm up at an easy pace for 5 to 10 minutes. Then walk up and down the hill; follow with 2 minutes of brisk walking on a level surface. Repeat the hill and level walk for your desired workout length. Finish with 5 minutes of easy walking to cool down.
Time: 25 to 40 minutes
During this workout, you’ll intersperse strength moves as you walk, for cardio plus toning. Using the lottery approach (below) from Lee Scott to pick your exercises will prevent boredom and challenge new muscles.
The workout: Write at least nine no-equipment strength moves on pieces of paper. (Check out our list of the 25 Best Exercises For Trouble Spots for ideas.) Vary exercises to hit all major muscle groups, such as walking lunges, bench push-ups, tricep dips, planks, and power jumps. Drop them in a jar and draw three out before a walk. Warm up at an easy pace for 3 to 5 minutes, then walk briskly for 5 to 10 minutes. Stop and do one of the strength moves for 10 reps. Repeat the brisk walking (5 to 10 minutes), followed by the next strength move. Repeat once more to complete the final move. Cool down for 5 minutes at an easy pace.
Time: 5 minutes (Easy home routine!)
Do this quick workout anywhere there are stairs to double your calorie burn. Prevention reader Barb Best of Erie, PA, posted it at the bottom of her stairs as a reminder to do it.
1. Walk up and down one flight normally.
2. Slowly walk up sideways, crossing bottom foot over top. Keep head up. Walk down normally. Repeat, facing the opposite direction.
3. Step up on first stair, then down, starting with right foot (right up, left up, right down, left down) 10 times. Repeat, starting with left foot.
4. Climb stairs two steps at a time; come down quickly using each step.
5. Run up; walk down normally.
6. Repeat numbers 4 and 5 another four times.
7. At bottom, place right foot on first or second step, bend knees, and lower into a lunge. (Watch the video to the left to see how to do a lunge without hurting your knees!) Keep right knee directly over ankle as you do so. Push off with right foot to return to start. Repeat with left leg. Alternate legs for 20 lunges total.
8. Walk up and down normally one time.