Research suggests that short bursts of heightened intensity can improve cardiovascular health, muscle reaction time, and overall fitness better than walking at a steady pace. Kick up the benefits of interval training with these tips for keeping pace:
Use a 30-minute walk as your baseline. Start slowly with a 10-minute warm-up. Increase your speed for 1-2 minutes before returning to your normal pace for 2-4 minutes — or double the time you sprinted. Repeat for 15 total minutes. End with 5 minutes of cool-down. Ultimately aim for 5-minute segments that alternate between brisk and standard walking paces.
To increase your speed, pump your arms — your legs will follow. Focus on shorter, quicker steps as opposed to lengthening your stride, which can actually slow you down and unravel technique. Maintain proper posture, and avoid over-twisting your torso.
On each spurt, rev up your heart rate to about 80% of maximum. To measure if you’re walking fast enough, shoot for a pace that leaves you breathing hard but not completely winded — you can still speak, but no more than a few words at a time. Your recovery windows should return you to the lower fitness zone — about 60% of your maximum heart rate — where you can carry on a conversation with only a little huffing and puffing.