Interval Walking Programs

Burn More Fat and Calories

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 training has also been shown to improve:

  • Anaerobic and aerobic fitness
  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular health


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.

Getting Started

  • Your heart rate during the high intensity intervals can go as high as 80 to 95% of it's maximum. 
  • Your heart rate during the recovery periods should come down to 40- 50% of it's maximum.

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 intervals.

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.

Interval Walking Programs


* 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 lose weight.

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.

Tips to Maximize Your Workout

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.


Research Supports the Effectiveness of Interval Training

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 WebMD).

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.

Return From Interval Walking to Walking to Lose Weight

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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.

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