Use these simple strategies to up your calorie burn, drop the pounds, and boost the effectiveness of your walks.
By Karen Asp
Add some inclines to your walk and you'll torch some serious calories. A 150-pound woman walking at 3.5 miles per hour on level ground will burn 132 calories in 30 minutes. But walking at the same speed on a five percent grade, she'll burn 171 calories in a half-hour. "Walking up hilly terrain requires the muscles to produce more force to propel the body upward, which helps you burn more calories," says Julia Valentour, spokesperson and programs coordinator for the American Council on Exercise. Bonus: Walking uphill may boost bone density and will tone and strengthen your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
How to get started: Once you've established a steady routine of walking on flat terrain, try walking hilly routes one to two times a week. (Avoid walking those routes on back-to-back days so your body can recover.) If there are no hills in your neighborhood, go to a local school and climb up and down the stadium steps, or try the stairs in an office or apartment building. At the gym, hop on a treadmill and add an incline. Start with a five-minute walking warm-up with no incline, then increase to an incline you can sustain (anywhere from five to 10 percent) for 60 seconds. Drop back down to no incline for 1.5 to two minutes so you can recover. Work your way to walking uphill for 60 seconds and resting for 60 seconds. Repeat this several times during your workout. "The incline should challenge you but not so much that your breathing and heart rate accelerate rapidly," Valentour says.