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7 Ways to Make Walking More Enjoyable

Walking is a great form of exercise and the best part is that it’s completely free. Forget pricey gym memberships. Learn how you can make the most out of this easy exercise without spending a dime.

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Walk to Control Your Body Weight

You may not think such a mild level of activity as walking can help. But in one significant study, a group of sedentary people were given a daily goal of 10,000 steps of brisk activity, as measured by their pedometres. They improved their fitness levels just as much as a group that followed a traditional gym-based aerobic routine. Overall, studies find that getting between 8000 and 10,000 steps a day (about 8 km) helps you to maintain your current weight and stop gaining weight, while adding to that another 2000 steps (an extra 1.5 km a day) helps you to lose weight.

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Walk for Entertainment One Day a Week

Instead of walking around your neighbourhood, walk around a zoo, an art gallery or a shopping centre. You could even try walking around them twice – first at a brisk pace and then more slowly to take in the sights.

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Walk in the Prettiest Neighbourhood

Pleasant surroundings make all the difference. Just circling the same streets can become very boring. So do what one of our exercise advisers does: get in the car and drive to a new neighbourhood. And make it a nice one. When researchers from the University of Wollongong in New South Wales surveyed walkers about their walking habits, they found that men who found their neighbourhoods attractive were much more likely to walk around them. Other research finds that neighbourhoods that have well-maintained pavements and safe and well-lit walking areas encourage walking more than neighbourhoods that don’t. Also, people who live in neighbourhoods where they feel safe and comfortable walk an average of 70 more minutes each week than people who live in less attractive areas.

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Walk Faster Nearer the Start of Your Walk

If you want to increase the amount of fat you burn during a walk, add some bursts of faster walking towards the beginning of your walk. Many walkers wait until the end of the walk to speed up, treating their faster walking as a finishing flourish. Yet a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that exercisers burned more fat and felt less tired when they inserted their faster segments towards the beginning of a work-out rather than closer to the end. Doing this works because it speeds up your heart rate early on and keeps it elevated for the rest of your walk.

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Walk When You Shop

Online shopping is great in terms of selection and convenience, but it is pretty useless when it comes to burning kilojoules. But, making the effort to go out shopping, walking to the shops if they’re close enough and carrying your shopping back home can burn about 850 kilojoules an hour, which is much more than what you’d burn sitting at your desk surfing the Internet. You can increase the effectiveness of your walk by doing a lap around the shopping centre between shop visits.

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Walk to Fundraise for a Cause

It’s always better and often much more fun to walk for a charitable cause. You’ll need to find sponsors, but you’ll take pride in the fact that you’re walking for something beyond yourself, which will motivate you to go longer and faster. After every walk, mark the amount you’ve raised on a chart: it will encourage you to do more.

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Walk Around the Office or House

Are you stuck at your desk working all day, practically chained to your computer screen? Get up and walk around for 5 minutes every 2 hours at least. A brisk 5-minute walk every 2 hours adds up to an extra 20 minutes walking by the end of the working day. And getting a break will make you less likely to eat compulsively at your desk. It’s also a good idea to get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour or so if you’re sitting for long periods of time at home reading, watching TV or pursuing any other sedentary hobby.