How to Use Interval Walking for Weight Loss

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Walking to lose weight is effective, convenient and great for your body. But if you want to slim down faster, you should use interval walking for weight loss. An interval walking program can boost your calorie and fat burning potential without adding too much stress or strain to your body.

What Is Interval Walking?

An interval walking program for weight loss is almost the same as every other walking program to lose weight but it takes advantage of short bursts of faster walking to help you burn more fat. Each interval is timed so that it is not too long and you won't get exhausted. Following each fast walking burst is a short recovery so that you can catch your breath and recover. Interval walking is one of the best ways to improve your level of fitness, burn more calories, and even transition to a jogging or running program.

How to Set Up Interval Walking for Weight Loss

Before you start any exercise program it is important to check with your doctor to make sure that you are healthy enough for a vigorous workout. Then you should make sure that you are properly equipped with good walking shoes and a stopwatch. Many fitness trackers and activity monitors have a watch feature that you can use to time your intervals. You can also use any sports watch with a second hand or even your mp3 player if it has a timer.

Next, you'll want to set up the intervals. Begin every workout with a 5-minute warm-up. During the warm-up, start with an easy walking pace and gradually work your way up to a moderate walking pace. If you monitor your steps per minute, a moderate pace might be roughly 100 steps per minute. But you can also use perceived exertion as your guide. When you are walking at a moderate pace you should be breathing deeply but comfortably.

After the warm-up, begin your first interval. If you are new to this style of exercise, begin with a short 30-second interval. During this burst, bend your arms and pump them forward and back. Take shorter, quicker steps and roll from your heel to your toes and push off strong. Your breathing will get deeper as well. After 30 seconds, return to your moderate walking pace for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. You just completed your first interval set!

Repeat the interval set (30 seconds of a quick burst followed by two minutes and 30 seconds of a moderate pace) four more times for a total of five interval sets (15 minutes). Finish the workout with a 5-minute cooldown.

Advanced Interval Walking Program for Weight Loss

As your fitness level improves, you can make your interval walking program more advanced. But keep in mind that since your interval walking workouts are challenging, you don't want to do them every day. Instead, alternate interval walks with moderate-intensity, steady-paced walks during the week. Two or three intervals walks per week are recommended. This way you give yourself some easier days in between to avoid injury or burn out.

There are four easy ways to add a challenge on your interval walking days.

  • Shorten the rest period. After each 30-second burst, give yourself less time to recover. Just make sure you maintain a moderate pace during the recovery phase.
  • Lengthen the interval burst. Make each interval burst last longer. Try a 40-second interval, a 50-second interval or a 60-second interval to burn more fat while walking.
  • Add hills. You can do interval walking on a hill to make it harder. Use a single, short hill and walk up during the burst and walk down for recovery or do your entire walking workout on an incline.
  • Add speed. Some runners actually learn how to run by using a simple interval walking program. Why not give it a try? During your quick burst, jog slowly. Then slow down to a brisk walk during the recovery. Gradually increase the time you spend jogging and decrease the time you spend walking. Soon enough you'll be jogging during your entire workout!

You'll probably find that your interval walking program flies by more quickly than steady pace walking. Counting each burst and recovery helps take your mind off the effort of your workout. But remember that consistency matters most when you want to lose weight. So no matter which walking program you use to lose weight, stick to it to get real results.

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  1. Masuki S, Morikawa M, Nose H. Interval Walking Training Can Increase Physical Fitness in Middle-Aged and Older People. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2017;45(3):154-162. doi:10.1249/JES.0000000000000113