Aerobic Walking Is a High-Intensity, Low-Impact Workout

Walking to meet your fitness goals is easy when brisk walking becomes second nature to you. But to get the absolute fitness benefits, you need to reach for the next level—aerobic walking. The slow end of the brisk walking scale is a mile in at least 18 minutes; the high end is a mile in 14 minutes, as fast as most people can walk without heavy exertion. Aerobic walking means walking a mile in 13 minutes or less.

But heavy exertion is not the point of walking for exercise—remember that consistency is far more important than intensity in reaching your fitness goals. So how do you increase your walking pace without dramatically increasing your physical exertion? Aerobic walking, of course!

Aerobic Walking Is All in the Swing

The key to aerobic walking is not in your legs but in your arms. Because your arms and legs act as natural pendulums while you walk, you can increase your walking pace by increasing the style and frequency of your arm swings.

The principle is fairly simple—if you increase the frequency of your strides, your must increase the frequency of your arm swings; otherwise, walking would be difficult, if not impossible. Try it yourself! Try walking quickly with your hands in your pockets, for example, or without moving your arms at all. It’s exhausting! Now try moving your arms faster than your walking pace—you’ll find that you have to walk faster to keep up with your arm swings!

To get up to aerobic walking, you need to find your own swing technique. Start by bending your arms while you walk briskly. You will soon find that your arm speed keeps up with your walking pace. You can master aerobic walking without looking foolish.

For the most consistent results, you need to calculate your ideal heart rate, which is based on your age and level of exertion. Here is a handy online calculator you can use to reach your ideal cardiovascular workout.

Aerobic Walking Works More Muscle Groups

Aerobic walking brings your walking for fitness program to the next level. You will now be working out more muscle groups, both lower and upper body. About half the calories burned by aerobic walking are fats, the other half carbohydrates, so your muscle tone will become more defined. An ideal aerobic walking workout should last about 45 minutes, not including warmup and cool down.

  • Start with your normal stretching routines. Keep in mind that stretching prepares your muscles but also prepares your mind.
  • Start walking slowly at first, gradually increasing your pace for the first 10 minutes.
  • After about 10 minutes, increase your pace to aerobic walking pace. You should be breathing hard now, only able to speak in short bursts.
  • Using hand weights is a great way to work your upper body strength while aerobic walking.
  • Try to keep up your aerobic walking pace for 30–45 minutes. Working out longer than 1 hour can make you feel fatigued instead of energized.
  • End your routine with a 10-minute cool down, slowing to an easier pace.