Wear a Heart-Rate Monitor
Wearing a heart-rate monitor while you exercise is like having your own coach to keep you at optimal intensity: about 75 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Count Your Steps
Research shows that people who wear a pedometer walk about 2,000 more steps daily. Some of our editors' budget-friendly favorites include the FitBit (starting at $80, amazon.com) and the MySync ($15, walmart.com). Not sure if you want to purchase a pedometer? Smartphone apps such as Accupedo (Android, iOS) and Pedometer++ (iOS) can have the same inspiring effect.
Trying to fit more steps into your day? Follow these strategies to squeeze in an extra 500 steps in each day (and meet your 10,000 a day goal!).
Walk the Right Way
Not all steps are created equal. To maximize your walking workout, be sure to roll through the ball of your foot with each step, and push off with your toes. Get your calf and hamstring muscles involved by imagining you're trying to wipe a piece of gum off your sole.
Be Aware of Your Posture
While you walk, consider your posture. Focus your eyes on the horizon—when your head is raised, your chest opens and you can take deeper breaths. And be sure to stand tall, keeping your ears and shoulders directly above your hips to engage your core. It can also help to make a loose fist, as clenching your hands tightly wastes energy that could be used to power your walk.
Burn Even More Calories
With each step, pump your arms. Your hands should reach midbreastbone height on the upswing and brush past your hips on the downswing. At the same time, squeeze your glutes. This will help contract the big muscles in the back of your legs. And keep your strides short: Longer steps lead to a bouncier gate, which can increase the risk of injury to your joints. Taking shorter steps also makes it easier for you to walk faster, so you end up burning more calories.
Pick Up the Pace
These simple tricks can help you walk faster and reap bigger benefits.
• Skip killer hills. Don't assume that climbing a big incline will help you burn more calories. It might be better to maintain your speed on a moderate hill than to slow down a lot on a steeper one.
• Set goals. Choose markers you can see, like stop signs or park benches, and speed up until you reach one. Then slow down for the same distance. Repeat the intervals.
• Race home. When you get to the halfway point of your loop, walk back as fast as you can and time yourself. Make it a game: Every time you do that route, challenge yourself to beat your best time.