The best way to give your metabolism a boost is to move more, and walking is a great form of exercise for everyone.
You’ll need to walk each day for a substantial effect on your metabolism. Think of a time of day that fits into your schedule. If you’re an early riser, morning walks may work. Or perhaps you’d prefer walking away the stress of the work day at sunset. Maybe a half hour at lunchtime to refresh your mind is the perfect way to go for you.
Are you pressed for time? Short bursts of higher intensity exercise can reap the same, if not more, rewards than long walks, as you’ll burn more kilojoules in the same amount of time. Walking up stairs burns 400 per cent more energy than a leisurely stroll on the flat, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Walking uphill also means you’ll be using and building more muscles than if walking on the flat, which will also increase your metabolism.
Step it up
Find a route with a couple of steep hills to really rev up your heart rate.
No hills? Find a long set of stairs — your local oval may have one. Climb them moderately fast, then go back down them slowly. Repeat 3–5 times.
Take the stairs instead of lifts or escalators. Every bit of movement counts!
2. Go faster!
Another way to build your muscles and burn more energy is to increase your pace. This doesn’t have to be a sprint; even power walking increases your huff and puff. Pump your arms back and forth as you walk, which helps propel you forwards and burns more kilojoules.
Interval training is one of the best ways to maximise kilojoule burn and improve fitness. This involves bursts of high-intensity walking where you’re pushing as hard as you can, followed by a few minutes of more gentle walking; then repeat.
This type of training burns kilojoules even after the workout has finished, which is called ‘EPOC’ — elevated post-exercise consumption. High-intensity training increases EPOC twice as much as low-intensity walking.
Step it up
Combine walking with running/power walking. Use street signs or power poles to map out intervals. For example, jog the distance of two power poles or street signs, then walk to recover through another two. Repeat for 10–15 minutes.
Sign up for a short 5km charity run to give you something to train for. Better still, sign up with your partner, family or friend so you can push each other along.
Aim for at least two interval-style sessions each week to benefit your fitness.
3. Add variety!
Many of us are creatures of habit, but when you do the same exercise over and over, such as walking the same route every day, your body gets used to it and it no longer has to work as hard. This means you start to burn fewer kilojoules and don’t get the same aerobic benefit.
Step it up
Challenge your body by frequently changing your exercise routine. Every time you do this, you give your metabolism a little kick-start as your body has to use new muscles and adjust to the change in activity.
What is resistance training
Body weight exercise counts as resistance or strength training. Examples include squats, lunges, push ups and tricep dips. For each exercise, start with one set of about 8–10 repetitions. As you get stronger, increase the number of sets and add some hand weights if you feel comfortable.
Before you get started…
Get the all-clear from your GP. Start with a stretch and a five-minute gentle walk to warm up, and finish with a stretch to prevent injury. And, listen to your body. If it hurts, or doesn’t feel right, take a rest and just do what you can.