Dare we say it, that magical “s” word, “spring?” We think it’s safe to say that the warmer weather is slowly making its way back around, and for us office dwellers this is especially wonderful news. It means that we can get back outside and back to our daily walk breaks! We’ve already discussed the incredible benefits of walking for the young professional, and now we want to add some extra oomph to our favourite lunch hour workout, both physically and mentally. Whether you are already a regular walker, or are considering taking up the heart-healthy activity for the first time, we’ve come up with a few notable add-ons to help amp up that workday activity for more burn and more pleasure.
Add some poles
This Euro trend is slowly making it’s way over to us. Nordic walking, or the cooler sounding urban poling, is a unique blend of power walking done with ski-like poles. We admit, the activity does look a little silly, but if you can get over that there is potential to burn up to 46% more energy than with regular walking. Plus, with the special stride encouraged by Nordic poles, you can essentially get a full body workout, with arms and core getting much more attention than with your usual stroll. We’d say that is definitely worth it, so bring on the dork sticks!
Add some weights
We’re not channeling Suzanne Somers circa 1989, but we are talking about ankle weights. Yes, these classic fitness accessories are still around and are still perfectly capable of providing more bang for your buck on those quick coffee break hikes. Throwing on weights of two, five, or even ten pounds around your ankles will not only add to your calorie burn ,but can also provide some extra toning to your butt and legs. While you are at it, why not try on some wrist weights too? Pump those arms for some upper body action and see just how quickly that heart gets pounding. Further, if you are feeling really hardcore, try wearing a weighted vest and making every step a real workout.
Add a pedometer
Tracking your steps, distance, and speed can help keep you focused and always improving. By using a pedometer to set weekly step goals and/or to work at increasing your speed and distance, you can track your progress and see just how much good your regular workday walks are doing for you. And hey, there’s an app for that (many, in fact).
Add a dog
If your daily walks are geared more toward relaxation and stress relief, then there are also some other ways to help increase these benefits. And one of our favorites is to add a dog. Whether you have a dog of your own, have a friend with a dog, or work anywhere near an animal shelter, there are dogs everywhere that would just love to join you on your lunch hour stroll. So many dogs are under-exercised and left alone for long periods of time during the workweek. Run home over lunch and enjoy a park visit with your furry friend. Or, if any friends or family members that live near your workplace have a dog, I’m sure they’d be thrilled if you offered to walk their homebound buddy. Another option is to look into nearby shelters, which are always looking for volunteer dog walkers. Whatever avenue you choose, adding a dog to your regular walks will not only add some fun and variety to your workday, but will also greatly help an animal, which is always a joy in itself.
Finally, utilizing your daily walk time to catch up with colleagues on a personal level aids in interoffice relations as well as overall employee morale. Show some leadership and start a walking group. Not only will you be encouraging others to be active, but you will be providing an opportunity for you and your coworkers to let your hair down, get to know each other as people, and to relieve the stresses of the day together.
Whether you are looking to reap the mental, emotional, or physical benefits of walking, or all of the above, the most important thing is to just get out there a do it. Eight hours is a long time to be at a desk, in a car, or mentally engaged, so lace-up those runners and head outside…while we can!