Can interval walking help you burn extra fat and calories AND lose
weight quicker? You bet it can! Many experts say that using this form of exercise for 30
minutes is as effective as exercising at a steady
pace for 60 minutes.
Interval walking simply means alternating bursts of intense, high activity with
bursts of lighter activity.
The bursts of lighter activity are also called recovery periods
because you are allowing your heart rate and breathing to slow down a
bit to prepare for the next high intensity interval.
All you need to get started is:
This incredible app will time your intervals for you, let you choose music to go with your intervals and it's as easy as tapping your phone to start or stop an interval. Another great interval app for smartphones that runs on android is called HIIT interval training timer.
This article will focus on a form of interval training known as Fartlek, which is a Swedish term for “speed play”.
Fartlek is a casual form of interval training in which you decide the intensity of each interval based upon how you feel that day.
Interval walking has many benefits, which include:
Burns more calories. During those bursts of high activity, you will burn more calories than simply walking at a steady pace at a lower speed.
Burns more fat. You’ll burn more body fat than just walking at a steady, continuous pace.
Decreases your appetite. A small study done on overweight men at the University of Western Australia found that high intensity interval training supressed the hunger-stimulating hormone, ghrelin.
Improves your cardiovascular fitness. Strengthen your heart and improves your overall fitness level.
Beats the boredom. Interval training adds variety to your walking routine.
Avoids the plateau. Interval training constantly challenges your body and prevents it from adapting and reaching a plateau, which slows your weight loss progress.
May help manage blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. A study published in a 2014 edition of Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) found that participants who used interval walking training had improved blood sugar.
Interval training is easy to incorporate into your walking routine
but if you're just getting started, it's important to ease into it.
At first, add only one or two 5-minute high intensity intervals
to your walks until you build your stamina. Ultimately, change one or
two of your entire walks per week into an interval training program.
Interval walking requires you to increase the intensity of your walking for a short burst, then return to your normal walking pace to recover and prepare for the next high intensity burst.
There are two ways to increase the intensity of your walking:
1. Increase the speed at which you are walking. You can simply walk at a faster pace during the high intensity intervals.
2. Increase the resistance level. Find some hills to walk up or
increase the incline on the treadmill during the high intensity
The length of each interval is entirely up to you and should be based upon how you are feeling that day.
During the bursts of high activity, increase your pace or
resistance level enough so that you find it difficult to hold a
conversation. Following this “talk test” will help you determine if you
are expending enough energy to be considered high intensity.
During the bursts of lower intensity, also called the recovery
intervals, you should slow your pace or decrease the resistance level
until your heart beat and breathing slow down. This is the time to
recover from the previous high intensity burst and to give your body a
brief rest before beginning the next high intensity burst.
* Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes first by walking until you become warm and feel your heart beat a little quicker.
* Trust your body and slow down if you feel overtired or are in
any pain. It will take a few weeks to build your stamina, but you will
soon begin to see the benefits. Interval walking is a powerful way to
1. Beginner Workout: After warming up, walk at your normal pace
for two minutes, then add a burst of high intensity for one minute. Then
return to your normal pace for two minutes and then add another burst
of high intensity for one minute. Continue this pattern for the rest of
your workout. And, if this is too difficult, you can increase the length
of the low intensity walking to three or four minutes.
2. Intermediate Workout: After warming up, walk for two minutes
at your normal pace, then increase your speed or resistance level for
two minutes. Then return to your normal walking pace for two minutes and
once again increase your pace or resistance level for another two
minutes. Continue this pattern for your entire walk.
During your high intensity bursts, you can walk briskly, jog or
just climb a hill. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being exercising at
your highest possible level, aim for a level of 7 to 8 of exertion.
You can also follow this interval walking chart that provides a
complete interval training workout whether you are walking, jogging or
cycling, or more. You can print it out and carry it with you or take a
picture of it with your phone and refer to it that way.
It uses the same scale that was described above, with a 0 being no exercise and a 10 representing the highest intensity. Moderate intensity such as brisk walking is a 5 or 6. High intensity such as power walking or hill climbing is at 7 or above, and recovery intensity goes back down to 5 or 6.
Here are some great tips for getting the most out of your interval
walking to ensure that you are really pushing yourself and giving your
body a good challenge. Of course, only use these tips when you feel
comfortable with interval walking and are fit enough to exercise.
Tip #1: Break your walk into five-minute intervals and vary the length of the high intensity bursts within each 5-minute interval.
For example, the first high intensity burst could last for 30
seconds, followed by four and a half minutes of walking at your normal
pace. The next interval could consist of a one-minute high intensity
burst followed by four minutes of walking at your regular pace.
Feel free to vary the length of the high intensity bursts during the five-minute intervals based upon how you feel. In fact, it's best to continue to change the ratio of short intensity to high intensity to always challenge your body.
Tip #2: To really give yourself a good workout, try to
minimize the recovery time between your high intensity intervals. For
example, try to walk quickly for four minutes, then give yourself only a
minute of slower intensity/recovery time before beginning the next high
intensity interval. Try to do this a couple times within your workout.
Incorporate interval walking into fitness walking and you'll find
it easier to lose weight and achieve overall fitness. Interval training
is a powerful weight loss tool that burns fat and calories while
strengthening your cardiovascular system.
If you use Tunes, download this FREE interval walking podcast. It features Prevention Magazine's fitness expert Chris Freytag as she leads you through a 16-minute interval workout.
And the benefits continue to pile up! A
research study reported in October, 2012 by exercise physiology graduate
student Kyle Sevits of Colorado State University and his team showed
that you can burn up to 220 calories by doing 2.5 minutes of high intensity exercise.
In this particular study, it was bike riding, but what's even more
fascinating is that the bike riders broke the 2.5 minutes of high
intensity cycling into 30-second segments (for additional details on
this study visit
This study shows that by really pushing yourself for 30 seconds at a time, you can burn a lot of calories in a short time. Even though this study was focused on bike riding, it translates to interval walking - as long as you push yourself during your high intensity intervals, you're going to burn more calories than without those bursts of intense activity.
In another study
conducted in 2012, Dr. Anil Nigam of the MHI and University of Montreal
trained six overweight, middle-aged adults on how to use high intensity
training twice a week on a stationary bike in addition to resistance
training twice per week.
After four months, the participants' cognitive function, VO2max and brain oxygenation during exercise testing revealed that the participants' cognitive functions had greatly improved thanks to the exercise," Dr. Nigam said. Yes, interval training made them fitter and smarter!
A new study performed in Australia has found some interesting results. Researchers from the University of Sydney found that continuous aerobic exercise yields better fat loss results than HIIT workouts for overweight people. Researcher Shelley Keating says, "If you're hitting the gym to lose weight and trim your waistline, stick with steady aerobic exercise to shift abdominal fat and (you'll) see better results on the scales."
When added to a well rounded fitness routine, interval training truly is one of the best ways to improve your fitness level and lose weight as quickly (yet safely) as possible.
The interval training chart in this article was created by Cindy Boggs, wellness presenter and author, an ACE-certified instructor/trainer. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to cindys...@aol.com. Look for her award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her website, www.cindysays.com
For further information on interval training, read this great article.