The Ultimate Guide to Walking Workouts From Around the World
Walking workouts are among the most effective and underrated regimens for maintaining optimal fitness levels.
Since humans are ambulatory creatures, walking is a natural way to stabilise our core muscles and strengthen upper and lower limbs.
Given the influx of flashier workouts, however, it might feel easy consider walking workouts repetitive or outdated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, a better approach is to recognise the walking workout as a timeless fitness routine found in unique traditions from around the world.
Experts agree that walking for 30 minutes per day on most days of the week is a great way to improve or maintain your overall well-being. And as more people modify exercise to adapt to their current lifestyles, it is now easier than ever to engage in indoor walking, guided walking, and regional walking practices to make the most of time and effort.
Benefits of Walking Workouts
At first glance, a walking workout may not seem as flashy as CrossFit or yoga. However, walking is one of the best ways to take advantage of our natural inclination to move. Some of the top benefits of walking are as follows:
- Burns More Energy. According to the National Institutes of Health, walking at a brisk pace from 30 minutes to one hour can burn up to 371 calories.
- No Equipment Required. Although some walking exercises suggest optional equipment, you do not need to purchase any extras to engage in the most basic walking workouts. All you need is a high-quality pair of walking shoes to protect your soles, ankles, and joints.
- Conserves Lean Muscle. – Lean muscle is more metabolically active than fat, and the body needs lean muscle to maintain optimal health levels. Studies have shown that walking helps sustain lean muscle mass and strength better than other forms of exercise.
- Three Types of Exercise in One. Complete workout programs often feature warm ups, aerobics, strength training, flexibility, and cool downs. Walking can easily serve as a lively warm up, low-impact aerobic workout, and an endorphin-rich cool down. Since walking naturally complements the body’s structure, it can also help reduce the risk of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after working out.
- Tones the Lower Body. Practicing proper gait can create more attractive legs and glutes as well as help keep the bones and joints in correct alignment.
- Trims the Waistline. In order to walk correctly, you have to stabilise your trunk and core. Over time, walking contributes to trimming the waistline without needing to perform hundreds of twists or crunches.
- Time-Efficient. Across the board, experts contend that you only need 30 minutes of brisk walking each day. Consistency is the key to achieving the best results. If you need help reaching this goal, give yourself 12 weeks. In week one, spend five minutes each day on warm-up walking, five minutes on brisk walking, and five minutes on cool-down walking. The next week, add two minutes to brisk walking (but keep your warm-up and cool-down times the same). Keep adding two minutes to brisk walking every week. By week 12, you will reach the goal of five minutes for warm-up walking, 30 minutes of brisk walking, and five minutes for your cool down.
How to Perform Your Walking Workout Correctly
Before selecting the best type of walking workout, it is important to check your technique. This will enable you to make the most of your time during any routine.
- Lace Up. You should wear comfortable clothing and high-quality walking shoes.
- Zip Up. To stabilise your core, think of an imaginary line that runs from your pelvic bone up through your belly button. Stand up straight and tall, and imagine zipping that line up to stabilise your trunk and core.
- Head Up. To avoid slouching, try to keep your chin parallel to the ground and your ears aligned with your shoulders. This also helps keep your neck long and properly aligned.
- Gaze Forward. Keeping your shoulders rolled down and back, maintain a forward gaze instead of constantly looking at the ground. This can help you maintain proper body alignment.
- Mind Your Shock Absorbers. During a walking workout, your legs act as shock absorbers to maintain low impact. Lift your toes to engage your foot arches. Keep your kneecaps forward, and maintain a smooth gait by striking the ground with your heel first and then rolling through to your toes.
- Breathe In. To get the most out of an aerobic workout, breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Swing Your Arms. Once your get the hang of your gait, gently swing your arms at your sides (with a slight bend at the elbows).
- Stay Alert. If walking outdoors, ALWAYS stay safe by maintaining awareness of your surroundings (such as traffic or unusual neighborhoods). Consider walking with a glow stick if visibility is low.
- Balance It Out. All walking workouts should consist of a warm up, brisk-pace walking, a cool down, and final stretching for flexibility.
Top Walking Workouts From Around the World
Never again do you have to feel stumped when deciding how to spice up your walking routine. Try some of the best walking workouts from around the world to boost daily fitness activities.
1. Nordic Walking
This full-body workout uses trekking poles or walking sticks to increase the efficiency of a walking workout.
Drawing on the Northern European tradition of using a trekking stick to blaze through snow and harsh terrain, Nordic walking first gained worldwide popularity among hikers and backpackers.
After observing that the practice can increase strength, stamina, and endurance, athletes like skiers and professional Olympians also adopted the exercise as part of their training programs.
According to the Nordic Walking Association, this workout can use up to 80 percent of your muscles and burn at up to 250 calories if you stick with it for at least 30 minutes. Because the trekking sticks are their won shock absorbers, this workout may also have significantly less impact on your bones and joints.
You can join a local Nordic walking group or contact a trainer. Prefer to stay completely indoors? Consider investing in a NordicTrack, the home equipment system also based on this fitness tradition.
2. Latin Spice Walk
If you are interested in all the elements of Latin dance without learning complicated Zumba moves, try the 30-minute Latin Spice Walk. This workout blends the five major Latin styles (samba, rumba, mambo, cha-cha, and paso doble) into one efficient routine.
Whether you are a newbie to dance or an expert looking to shake up your routine, this full-body workout gives you the complete Latin range of barrio to ballroom.
3. American Three-Mile Walk
The indoor three-mile walk has increased in popularity in North America due to various quarantine mandates. For many individuals, this workout is a free way to drop pounds since it requires virtually no equipment and only takes 30-45 minutes each day.
If you want a version that features lateral moves and engages the upper body, try one of the most popular free walk routines by Leslie Sansone and the American Heart Association.
4. African Culture Trip
African walking tours known as the Culture Trip have exploded in popularity in areas like Cape Town. These tours include classes like hiking, beach yoga, and mountain trekking.
Although travel restrictions have limited culture trips in various countries, you can still take part in the tradition virtually. Consider taking a virtual tour (such as this ultra high-definition wildlife tour) as you brisk-walk on your treadmill.
5. Chi Walking
This workout uses the principles of Tai Chi to improve posture, strengthen core muscles, and improve flexibility of limbs. First popularised in East Asia, there are now books and courses based on the subject throughout the world.
Try a simple five-step approach to Chi Walking (usually available on YouTube) and gradually work your way up to high-endurance marathons.
The Bottom Line
Walking is a great exercise of choice for those who want to reshape their bodies from head to toe. Best of all, a person interested in walking does not have to stick to a repetitive routine.
After learning the right technique, you can choose from among different styles around the world to find the regimen that works best for you.