With Sydneysiders battling through another lockdown, it can be easy to fall into a trap of not exercising during this period of isolation.
However, being stagnant can be a dangerous rut to fall into and can lead to unwanted weight gain or loss, stress, food cravings and altered sleep patterns — but we’re sure you knew that already.
Of course to maintain mental stability, reduce anxiety, boost your immune system and sleep better at night, daily exercise is a must — and for most, right now, a daily stroll is all we’re allowed.
A brisk outdoor walk is a great low-impact way to move your body and the perfect way to break up a long day working from home or home-schooling the kids.
While it might not sound like much of a workout, there are plenty of ways to maximise the efficiency and fat-burning potential of a walking session.
1. Practice good posture
When doing any kind of exercise, it’s important to have good form. This prevents injury and helps your muscles get the most out of a workout.
“Pull back and drop your shoulders so they’re not bunched up around your ears,” instructs Elmowy.
“Keep your core tight and your glutes switched on.”
2. Speed it up
“A brisk walk is great,” says Elmowy. “But if you were to power walk more and raise your heart rate, that’s more calories you’ll end up burning.”
Elmowy suggests walking “anywhere from 30-90 mins, most days”, and keeping a pace that elevates your heart rate.
“The more you work in the zone of your heart rate being about 60-70 percent of your maximum heart rate, the better,” she says.
If you don’t have a Fitbit or smart watch, there are other ways to monitor your cardio output.
“Noticing your breath is the easiest way to monitor that,” says the expert.
“It becomes harder to speak in full sentences, and you won’t be able to sing,” she advises.
“If you’re walking with a friend or speaking on the phone and can still maintain a full conversation, that’s when you know you’re not putting in that extra bit of effort to turn it into a workout.”
3. Switch it up
Implementing some jogging/running intervals into your walk can make a huge difference.
“If you’re in a healthy state where you can jog or run, go for it,” says Elmowy, who recommends the Swedish technique Fartlek training as a good resource.
“It’s continuous interval training,” she explains. “So you may sprint up a hill, power walk across, then run back down.
4. Add in a circuit
To maintain hygiene and safety, you can create a circuit without the need for props. Incorporate some body weight exercises into you walks.
If you pass by a bench or brick fence, try some dips or a wall sit. Alternatively you could try lunging or squatting at different intervals.
“Do a basic circuit of 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 10 squats or lunges, then continue on, with walking being an active recovery between efforts,” says Elmowy.
“You can run or walk for a kilometre, then do a set of burpees,” she adds.
“Be versatile in what you do and you’ll get a good workout either way.”
5. Use inclines
If you can, find a walking route that incorporates hills and/or stairs to really work those leg and glute muscles and increase your cardio endurance.
“Inclines are great for hitting your heart rate quite high and you’re also getting strength training in there too as you have to apply more of your body into the exercise,” says Elmowy.
6. Take a friend and/or dog along for the fun
Let’s face it, it can be easier to slack off when no one’s watching. So, Elmowy suggests teaming up (at a safe distance) with a friend who has like-minded fitness goals, or bringing along a furry friend.
“If you’re out there and someone else motivates you, you’re more likely to put in more effort, without even realising it,” she says.
“Dog walking is great, it’s a lot more exciting. Her energy is positive so it makes the walk a lot more playful, and gets me moving faster.”