Importance of Varying Walking Workouts

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Adding Spice to Your Walking Regimen

I've always had difficulty with boredom. I hate being bored! I carry around an innate fear of repetition and stagnancy and my walking program is no exception, for good reason.

Doing the same walk every time you go out not only gets less and less interesting, but you won't be getting all the walking benefits you could be. Do you vary the distance of your walking? Do you mix it up by walking at different speeds or on hills? Think of it this way. Every time you go out to walk, you exercise a certain set of muscle groups. If you always do the same walk, the same muscle groups will always get exercised, but what about all of the muscle groups that don't get exercised as regularly? What happens when a friend invites you to go distance walking to train for an event? What if it's more hilly than your "regular" course, or different in some other way?

Varying your workouts is as sensible as not eating the same food every meal. Just as your body craves nourishment from many different food groups, your upper and lower-body muscle groups need to be "fed" with exercise. If you always do the same walk there will be many parts of your body that will go unattended because they're not required to participate. So, may I suggest a few walks that require the use of different muscle groups?

Here are a few different types of walks to add to your "menu":

  • Hilly walks (work your upper body and strengthen your heart)
  • Hiking trails (work your lateral muscles and improve your balance)
  • Focusing walk (focus on your breath, repeat a sound or watch a point on the horizon to teach your mind to relax by focusing on only one thing)
  • Energizing walk (inhale deeply for 3 steps, then exhale full for 3 steps to help circulate more Chi through your body)
  • Aerobic walk (distance walking at a consistent, comfortable pace builds aerobic capacity)
  • Fun walk (have fun exploring some new territory with a friend)
  • Group walks (build your social skills while getting fit)
  • Form walks (take the time to work on improving your bio-mechanics)

No matter how often you walk each week, you should strive to make every walk different in some way. The basic rule I follow is to try not to do back to back strenuous walks or hikes. Your body will thank you if you alternate easy and hard. More brisk or hilly walks are for building your conditioning and easy walks are for recovering, both mentally and physically.

Adding a little "spice" to your weekly walking routine will work wonders on your walking appetite. You might discover some new favorite workouts. You'll have more to talk about to your friends. Your body will be better conditioned and boredom will never be an issue. At least while you're walking.

A detailed guide of how to do all of these walks can be found in the ChiWalking book or Workbook.

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