By Michelle Carbery, Senior Corporate Wellness Specialist, Independent Health

Walking is a great way for people of all ages to improve or maintain their overall health and well-being. Taking a walk for 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. Plus, daily walks can help lessen symptoms associated with chronic mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, when you continue to walk for the same time and distance at the same intensity, it’s easy to get into a rut. To amp things up and add some variety into your routine, we encourage you to try some of these ideas:

  • Listen to something new – Playing the same songs over and over again can dull your momentum when you’re walking. Create a high-tempo, upbeat music playlist that will help you pick up the pace. Or, instead of listening to music, pick a really good podcast or audiobook to listen to. By downloading an episode or a book that really piques your interest, you might surprise yourself and go a bit further just to keep listening. Just slip your phone or device into an armband or secure pocket. If you’re going to use headphones or ear buds, keep the volume low, or consider using them in one ear, so that you can hear traffic or other hazards around you.
  • Switch things up – Change the time of day you normally go walking, or do your favorite route but reverse it. If you want to enjoy some new scenery, take a walk on a trail, in a park or along the waterfront. Walking through your dream neighborhood or an area you’ve never visited before can add some much-needed pizzazz, too.
  • Find a walking partner – Exercise and socializing go hand in hand. Aside from being a great way to improve your social well-being, walking with a family member or friend can make you feel more motivated or adventurous. Having someone to walk with can also keep you accountable.
  • Challenge yourself – Incorporate some speed intervals by simply picking up your walking pace for 30 seconds every four to five minutes. This will add a little more mileage into your routine and allow you to finish your normal route quicker. Walking up hilly terrain will activate more of your glute muscles and hamstrings. You could also turn your walk into a full-body workout by adding walking lunges for 10 paces at a time, performing heel raises as you wait to cross the street or carrying light weights.

By incorporating a few little changes into your walking routine, you will keep things fresh, fun and interesting!