Brisk walking is quick walking. It is faster than just a leisurely stroll or your normal walking pace. It will raise your heart rate so that you are strengthening your cardio vascular system, improving your fitness level and burning calories.
It is one of the most convenient, maintainable forms of exercise because you can do it anywhere. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and you are ready to go (you can find my recommendations on best walking shoes here).
In a recent study called, Regular Physical Activity: A 'Magic Bullet' for the Pandemics of Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, the authors note that brisk walking for only 20 minutes a day burns about 700 calories a week, results in a 30 to 40 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease. (source).
But, the benefits go even farther than that. The authors state that exercise can benefit your body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It can also reduce your risk of diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, colon cancer and potentially even breast and prostate cancers as well as arthritis. It has been known to positively affect your mood, energy, sleep and sex life.
A good pace is a 17 – 20 minute mile. You’ll know you are in this zone when you breathing is a bit faster than normal and you are able to talk but not hold a conversation…that means your body is working and burning calories!
Your goal is to work up to walking briskly for 30-minutes, five days a week. Experts have found that 150 minutes of exercise per week will improve your mental and physical health and reduce your risk of many diseases.
1. Six Week Beginner Program – this program is provided by the American Heart Association and can be downloaded here. It is perfect for someone who isn’t exercising regularly yet and wants to build up their endurance and establish a healthy walking habit.
2. Four Week Program for Intermediate Walkers – this four week program provided by the American Heart Association can be downloaded here and starts off with 10-minute easy and brisk paced walks. It will increase your endurance so that you are able to create a daily 30-minute exercise habit.
3. Twelve Week Program – this program was created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and can be viewed here. It will start you out with just 5 minutes of brisk walking and build your endurance over twelve weeks to 30 minutes per day.
4. Four Week Interval Walking Program – this program is offered by MyFitnessPal and can be viewed here. This plan has it all and combines steady-state and powered-up pace interval walks along with resistance and flexibility training to help maximize your results.