Maximize Your Lunchtime Walk

30-Minute Walking Workouts

Coworkers walking outside
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Lunchtime can be a great time for a walking workout. Here are tips to make the most of 30 minutes of walking. In 30 minutes you can cover between 1.5 to 2 miles (or 2 to 4 kilometers). You can burn as many as 200 calories, depending on the distance you walk and your weight.

Why Walk for 30 Minutes?

Health authorities including the USDA and CDC recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking. If you enjoy a brisk walk during your lunch break most days of the week, you will have achieved the minimum requirement to help combat the health risks of inactivity and obesity. You should aim for at least 10 minutes of walking at a brisk pace to count towards the weekly total.

A 2015 study found many mental benefits for walking for 30 minutes during lunch. Workers had increased enthusiasm, felt more relaxed, and were less nervous after a 30-minute walk at lunchtime. They also improved their physical fitness and other measures of health.

Preparation: Your Walking Plan

Set yourself up for success before you start walking.

  • Where can you walk so you have minimal interruptions? You can use a treadmill, walk indoors, or walk outdoors. Select a route that has fewer street crossings and stops for traffic. If you know how much distance you can walk in 30 minutes, you can map out a circular route. If not, you may want a shorter route that you can repeat multiple times.
  • Change into athletic shoes: You could walk in whatever footwear you happen to wear to work or school. But to get a good brisk walking stride, it's best to change into athletic walking shoes or running shoes. Depending on the weather, you may feel more comfortable changing into shorts and a T-shirt, or you may need a jacket and hat.
  • Eat before or after?: Most people prefer to exercise first and have the meal after they finish. If you are very hungry by lunch, quiet your hunger by drinking a glass of water, or have a light snack of a piece of fruit. A light lunch after your walk will nourish your muscles so they can recover and grow stronger.

Warmup

Begin with an easy walking pace for one to three minutes. Use this time to shake out the kinks if you have been sitting or standing for long periods.

Set yourself up for good walking posture. Energize your walking by relaxing and loosening your shoulders and standing upright, with stomach sucked in and pelvis tilted slightly forward. You want your chin up and eyes forward.

You can go through a short stretching routine after a couple of minutes of walking. But you can also save the stretching to do after your walk or as its own exercise activity at another time.

Steady State Brisk Walk

Walk at a brisk pace for 10 to 25 minutes, leaving time for a one- to three-minute cool down at an easy pace.

Aim for a heart rate of 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Use a heart rate chart to find your numbers and take your pulse after 10 minutes of walking to check it. If you wear an activity monitor that has heart rate detection, it may give you these numbers automatically. Learn to know what this range feels like—you will be breathing heavier than normal, but still able to talk.

If you find you aren't getting your heart rate into the moderate-intensity zone, you will need to pick up the pace. An easy tip to walk faster is to add arm motion. Slow to an easy pace to finish your walk.

Intervals for Intensity

Adding bouts of speedwalking or stair climbing can boost the calorie burn of your walking workout. These are easiest to do on a treadmill, track, or a route you have mapped out. After your warmup at an easy pace, walk as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Then slow to a brisk pace for two minutes. Repeat three to four times, leaving time for a cool down.

If you prefer to use stairs for intensity, Use a set of stairs you can complete in 30 seconds, which will be about two to three floors.

Easy Health Walk

Some days you will want to take it easier. You can spend the full 30 minutes walking at an easy pace. Concentrate on good posture and taking full, complete breaths.

Vary Your Lunchtime Walking Workouts

Change it up from day to day to prevent boredom and to keep challenging your body in different ways. Alternate steady state days with interval days. If you always use a treadmill, mix it up with walking the corridors or walking outside.

Invite Others to Join You

Solo walking is great, but you may be more consistent in walking if you have a lunchtime walking buddy. You won't find as many excuses to skip your walk if your friend is ready to get going.

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