9 Ways To Change Up Your Walking Practice

It is said that variety is the spice of life, a lesson you should consider applying to your walking style. Varying your routine helps to keep you from getting bored and presents the opportunity to challenge your body in new ways that can lead to stronger muscles and a healthier you. Here are nine ways you can switch things up and add a little spice to your walking workout.

  1. Walk backwards: If your knees are feeling a little strained, give walking backwards a try! Not only will this give you a new perspective, but you’ll also strengthen the muscles in the front of your legs, like your hamstrings and shins, that take a bit of a backseat when you walk forwards. Just make sure you do this in a safe place since you don’t (despite what you may tell your kids) have eyes in the back of your head.
  2. Walk sideways: Also referred to as lateral walking, sideways walking strengthens your glutes and core, and also targets your inner thighs. This form of walking helps you burn calories, is easy on your joints, and is a great way to rehabilitate your body after an injury. You can even challenge yourself by adding a resistance band around your mid-calves to the movement.
  3. Take a Walking Class: 99 Walks offers more than a dozen different walking classes every week, including five classes made just for Jetti Walking! Walking meditations, power walking, journey classes, indoor, outdoor and Jetti levels 1, 2 and 3.
  4. Walk at intervals: Changing up your pace while walking can speed up your metabolism and help you burn more calories than when you’re walking at one steady pace. Taking your body in and out of recovery mode at regular intervals will also help you, over time, increase the intensity of your walking workouts so you’ll find yourself walking faster, longer, and realizing even more health and wellness benefits of a walking practice.
  5. Walk with high knees: Your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, core, and hip flexors will thank you for taking your walking style to the next level with high knees. Alternately raising your knees when you walk is a great way to burn fat, and enhance your balance and muscle coordination. As you strengthen your body and get used to the movement, you can up your speed and turn high knees into a power move to really get your heart pumping!
  6. Walk uphill or up stairs: This calorie burner will surely get your heart pumping and glute and calf muscles firing! No need to take this at a high speed, but walking with purpose uphill or choosing to take the stairs can really challenge your body to work hard and grow stronger. And the best part? That feeling of accomplishment (and view!) you get once you reach the top!
  7. Walk barefoot: Give up your comfy, supportive shoes? Why yes! Give barefoot walking a try in your home, through a grassy lawn, or on a sandy beach to not only feel the connection with the earth, but also to focus more on your form and how your foot strikes the ground. This can really help with your body mechanics and make sure you are more aware of how your body responds while you’re taking a walk! Just make sure you try this someplace safe so that you don’t step on any unwanted obstacles.
  8. Walk on varied terrain: You may be used to walking on flat roads and pavement, but changing up the surface on which you walk can really provide beneficial challenges. Taking your walk to the trail, the sand, the water or even the snow can force you to use different muscles, which in turn helps you strengthen your body and burn more calories. 
  9. Walk and lunge: It’s common for your hips and hamstrings to become tight, but one way of improving your flexibility and loosening those leg muscles is to do some walking lunges. While doing so, you’ll also be strengthening your leg muscles and improving your balance. Take this one slow and steady, making sure you keep your body upright and from bending forward to protect your back. 

The next time you head out for a walk, don’t be afraid to change it up! You can guarantee your happiness hormones will start firing up as you tackle a new challenge and strengthen your mind and body.