Virtually every medical professional and organisation agrees that walking is one of the best ways to maintain health, lose weight and avoid chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. But striking out outdoors isn't always doable, whether you're strapped for time or the weather just isn't cooperating.
While stepping on the treadmill may be an option if you own one or belong to a gym, let's face it: It's also pretty boring. Fortunately, that's not the only way to rack up the steps. Yes, you could head to the shops, but it's also possible to log at least a kilometre without even leaving your house. Here's how.
Plot your course.
As with outdoor walking, the first step is to determine your route. Before you get started, spend a few minutes scoping out your floor plan and figuring out where you can move without bumping into furniture or walls, says personal trainer Lee Jordan. Do you have any long hallways, a large but sparsely-decorated room (like a basement) or other areas that would allow you to move around somewhat freely? If so, walking up and down the halls and/or around the room may work for you.
If space is tight, don't worry: The following indoor walking workout, created by Jordan, is designed to be done mostly by walking in place. You just need enough room to move about three steps in any direction; if necessary, push some furniture back a few feet.
Research shows that listening to fast-paced music can actually help you walk faster and burn more kilojoules, so set the mood by cranking up some tunes. Then follow these steps.
- Warm-up: Standing tall with your head high, begin marching in place at a moderate pace, bringing each knee to the hip line. (If you have stairs, you can use the first one like a stepper instead.) While marching, stretch your arms high above your head and then lower them. March in place for about 30 seconds, then take three steps to the left, three steps to the right, three steps forward, and three steps back. Do one squat, then return to marching in place for another 30 seconds.
- Toe taps: Stand with feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Move one leg behind you and tap your foot behind the standing foot before returning to starting position. Repeat with each foot 8 times.
- Side kicks: Take two steps to the left and kick your left leg out in front of your body. Then take two steps to the right and kick your right leg out. Continue alternating sides and legs for about 5 minutes.
- Mix it up: It's time to raise your heart rate, so pick up the pace by about 50%. Alternate marching, side steps, back-and-forth walking, toe taps, and side kicks. Continue at the faster pace for about 12 to 15 minutes, or, if you're wearing a fitness tracker, until the gadget says you’ve moved a kilometre (about 1,300 steps).
- Cool down: Return to marching in place and doing toe-taps at a moderate pace.
Pump it up.
Once you've gotten the hang of indoor walking, it's time to take things up a notch. Try alternating rounds of walking in place with 10-20 repetitions of push-ups (regular or modified; on the ground or against a wall), crunches, and/or squats, suggests trainer Tracey Rodriguez. This will serve to keep your heart rate high while building strength.