You'll be surprised at how easy it is to burn more calories: vary your walking speed.
I know you're thinking that I have a knack for stating the obvious but did you know that walking just a little bit faster or performing whatever cardio exercise you prefer a little bit faster for part of the time, can offer benefits that are exponential? The lesson here is that a slight increase in your cardio workout speed for part of the total workout period can produce bigger gains than you might think.
A study presented in the September 2015 issue of the journal Biology Letters conducted at Ohio State University found that if you vary the speed that you perform your cardio workouts that you can increase the calorie burn by as much as 20% compared to working out at a steady pace.
The number of calories burned increases dramatically with just small increases in speed. Add another half mile per hour (ie. from 4.1 to 4.6 mph) and the effect burns 32 percent more calories.
The critical pace to reach and exceed is 3-4 mph (varies according to your height and stride), according to Mark Fenton, walking guru and former Olympic speed walker. For every tenth of a mile faster above your normal target rate, the caloric burn advantage begins to cascade. Exceed 1 mph over your normal target speed and you burn more calories than if you were running. That's because running leaves you temporarily airborne, creating a pause in energy output, and your landing provides a spring for the next step. Fast walking requires steady muscular effort at every stage of movement.
There are techniques to help you walk 4, 5 or even 6 mph.
Gently contract abdominal muscles to keep your pelvis neutral and your lower back from arching too much.
This form keeps your shoulders back and your chest open.
Bend elbows at 90 degrees, holding your arms in at your sides. Don't swing them across your body or let them stray outward. By focusing on your faster arms, your legs will keep up with the pace.
As you walk faster, you tend to take longer steps with the forward leg. But when you reach farther, the front leg acts like a brake and slows you down. Instead, increase your stride length on the back leg by rolling through the ball of your foot and pushing off.
A more recent discovery is known as after burn. According to physiologist, Dr. David Nieman, Ph.D., excess post oxygen consumption (EPOC), is a phenomenon where your body continues to burn calories after you have completed your workout as your body transitions into non-exercise mode.
We never recommend simply jumping on the latest exercise fad crazes and the latest high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts do seem to fall into that category, but that being said there is research, both past and present to support the idea that this model works for many people. The main idea behind the craze is that rather than keeping your aerobic rate steady through your entire workout that you instead vary the pace; sometimes working harder and faster and sometimes slower with less intensity. It is similar to bicycling up and down hills rather than staying on an even road. This model is not really anything new, it is just packaged differently. Like the "new and improved " of laundry detergents. Nothing more than a repackaging of an old idea although an effective one. This is really how aerobics classes have been taught over the last 40 years.
But hey, getting in shape is all about motivation. If buying the latest military style workout clothes and joining a group of highly motivated people to lose weight does the trick then it is all good in our eyes. Whatever gets you off the couch, into a workout routine and into a hot tub afterwards is a win/win, no matter how you spin it! (no pun intended spin-class fans).
Wow, that is a mouthful. We first heard about this effect over a decade ago and thought it was just a bunch of malarkey but recent research is indicating that there is evidence to support this. The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reports in December 2006 article; "Evidence has accumulated to suggest an exponential relationship between exercise intensity and the magnitude of the EPOC for specific exercise durations." Doctors Chantal A. Vella, Ph.D. & and Len Kravitz, Ph.D. also agree with these findings; "The intensity in an aerobic exercise bout has the greatest impact on EPOC. As exercise intensity increases, the magnitude and duration of EPOC increases. Therefore, the higher the intensity, the greater the EPOC and the greater the caloric expenditure after exercise."
Vella and Kravitz also report that earlier studies indicate the exact relationship of calories burned to oxygen intake; for every liter of oxygen consumed, approximately 5 calories are burned to process it. Your hot tub expands your arteries and allows oxygen rich blood to better circulate through your body. The North American Journal of Sciences reports in a 2014 study that hot water therapy has similar properties to exercise in that the increase in blood flow and distribution of oxygen rich blood to the brain and other organs of the body helps burn calories more efficiently after exercise. Turns out a hot tub doesn't just make you feel better and ease pain after a workout but is actually a comfortable continuation of your workout regimen. You can up your calorie burn during EPOC with a soak in your hot tub direcly following a workout.
We will acknowledge that there are other health experts with opposite views on the benefits of EPOC and increased exercise intensity but in a world where it is easy to give in to temptation and laziness anything that motivates us to get up and exercise more is a good thing. Einstein said that the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results. The benefits of warm water hydrotherapy have long been proven and embraced by medical professionals. As far as EPOC goes, we suggest you read the evidence and form your own conclusion as to the relevance and truth that lies within.
It is always best to get the most accurate pedometer to know for sure. But if you do not have access to one there is a manual method to calculate walking speed. It is not super accurate but will give you a rough estimate; Count steps for 30 to 60 seconds. At 120 steps per minute, you are moving at about 3 mph. 135 steps per minute is the equivalent of about 3.8 to 4 mph, and at 150 steps per minute, you are at about 4.5 mph. Your results will vary depending on your personal walking stride and your height.
If you have a pedometer (also known as a step counter) then you can get a more accurate measure. According to walking guru Mark Fenton, it is best to warm up for at least a 5-minute walk before you start to measure. Once you are warmed up then start your pedometer and walk for a full mile. This will tell you your steps-per-mile. You can also walk a quarter mile and multiply by four but for greater accuracy it is best to walk a full mile.
Most step counters will tell you the number of steps you have taken, the speed you walked (mph) and the distance you walked in miles. But if you do not have a step counter then you can guesstimate the distance you have walked by dividing the number of steps you just walked by the number of steps it takes you to walk a mile in the previous calculation (above). This is really not very accurate though since your stride can change depending on how fast you walked. It can give you a rough idea at best. It pays to know your personal walking speed for comparison later.
Download an app on your GPS-enabled smartphone. Some of these apps include Walkmeter, MapMyWalk / MapMyRun and PaceDJ. You can use these in conjunction with smartphone calorie counters such as MyFitnessPal to help with any weight management program. You should be aware though that activating many of these apps on your smartphone can reduce battery life. Test these before you walk too far from home.
Every day there seems to be a new exercise monitor on the market. There is a whole new class of devices called "activity monitors ". The leaders so far have been FitBit and the Apple Watch. You do not have to spend top dollar to find a good one though. The Tech Radar website reports on the 10 best affordable activity monitors. They give high marks for the Moov Now, the Garmin Vivofit 3, the Jawbone UP3 and the Huawei Fit amongst others. The prices for these are all under $100. with some good models just over $20. It pays to shop around. Ask your friends about the ones they use to get a more personal understanding of the pros and cons of each model.
With a smartphone activity monitor app, you will be able to view your continuous walking time, distance walked, the pace of your walk, as well as calories burned and average pace. You can see your walking route on a map while you walk, and the apps can post updates of your progress to Twitter, Facebook and email. After your walk, you can see your stats and review workouts. It also integrates with websites such as dailymile.com.
Walking is a great workout and it is something you can do on your own or with friends and family. We recommend that if you are walking alone that you stick to daylight hours and well traveled routes. Be sure to let a friend or loved one know when you intend to walk and what route you intend to take. Consider walking in pairs or in groups for safety. And bring your smartphone along either to record your progress or in the event of emergency.
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Further Recommended Reading
Get Amazing Benefits From Walking,
How Much Should I Walk Each Day?
The New Wave Of Fitness Trackers
Walk A Little Faster, Burn
A Simple Calculation: Your Heart Rate
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