Doctors, health professionals and fitness fanatics alike recommend that to keep fit, stay healthy, lose weight and maintain weight loss, you shouldwalk 10,000 steps per day. Whilst this sounds like a lot, once you get into the habit of doing it, you’ll realise that it’s a lot easier than you might have anticipated.
Recent research has also suggested that to get the most out of those 10,000 steps, you should walk them at a moderate pace rather than at a leisurely pace. Moderate exercise is considered to be exercise that makes you slightly out of breath and slightly sweaty and that gets your heart rate up.
In turn, moderate exercise gets your cardiovascular system working, pumping blood around your body at a faster rate so that you can better perform the exercise. Long term, this repeated working of your cardiovascular system will lower your blood pressure and your resting heart rate and will also improve circulation and strengthen your heart – but in terms of weight loss, any exercise that gets you sweaty and out of breath will burn off more calories than leisurely exercise.
How to improve intensity
So how do you improve the intensity of your 10,000 steps? Firstly, you need to walk more quickly. Sounds simple, but when you first start adding walking into your routine, you probably won’t walk very quickly, simply because it is new to you – so increase your speed until you’re walking at between 3 and 5mph. You should feel slightly out of breath, sweaty and quite simply, like you’ve exerted yourself.
When you’re walking outside of the house, take the pram and your baby out with you to add resistance and therefore intensity to your routine. Pushing the pram will add an arm workout to your routine, and the weight of the pram and your baby will also add resistance to your walk, which will up the intensity of the exercise and therefore help you to burn off more calories.
To increase the intensity even more, add lots of hills and rough surfaces into your walk. Walking up hills really helps you to burn off more calories – for every 1% incline, you burn off 12% more calories per 1.6 kilometers. If you walk up a hill with a 10% incline, you’ll be burning off over twice as many calories per 1.6 kilometers walked – so you can see that walking up hills really helps to improve the intensity of your workout. Burning off more calories also means increased weight loss.
Changing up where you walk also has its benefits. If you live near the beach, go for a walk along the seafront – you’ll burn off twice as many calories walking on sand than you will on firm ground. If the sand is particularly soft, however, you might want to put your baby into a sling and leave the pram at home to stop the pram from getting stuck in the sand – and as another benefit, carrying your baby adds resistance to this exercise, again meaning that you burn off more calories.
Add even more intensity to your walk by strapping on wrist/ankle weights, or both. These weights add weight to your body, and the heavier you are, the more calories you’ll burn off. Using weights on your arms and legs will also help to tone your arms and legs, which is another benefit!
Another way to increase the intensity of your walk is to do interval training – walk at a moderate pace for 5 minutes, then go as fast as you can for a few minutes, then walk at a moderate pace again and keep swapping between the two in intervals. This process of interval training is used by athletes and really helps you to burn off more calories – for example, walking at a moderate pace could burn off 260 calories per hour, whilst interval training could burn off 270 calories in 40 minutes – meaning that you can finish your workout more quickly.
One thing to keep in mind when out walking with your pram is not to push the pram over bumpy road or rough ground when they are under 6 months of age as this could injure them – instead, stick to flat ground. If you know you’re going to be taking your baby out in the pram regularly, invest in a very sturdy pram that won’t rock about whilst you’re walking.
Remember that if you don’t feel up to walking quickly or at a high intensity to start with, that’s fine – you can work up to it. You don’t need to do everything all at once! You’ll get there. Speak to your doctor or midwife before starting an exercise regime if you are new to exercise.
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