This spring, getting out of the house for some new experiences has taken on a whole new meaning in many of our lives. As the weather warms up and more places are open, the spring walking workout can be a perfect opportunity to start up a walking practice for health and wellness. 

The benefits are many—from low-impact exercise, to burning off extra calories, to a mental health boost and a healthy dose of sunshine.. Find out more about how to get started on the spring walking workout 2021 in time for some adventures in the great outdoors.

Clothes and equipment

When starting up a walking routine, getting the right gear can help keep you comfortable as you build the habit. To begin, make sure to wear well fitting shoes you’ll be able to walk long distances in. They should be supportive and lightweight. If you have any specific concerns like plantar fasciitis, ask an expert for the best shoe for your foot. 

Make sure to be prepared for rain if you live in a wet climate. Bringing a waterproof covering like a raincoat or umbrella for your walk as well as shoes that can keep your feet dry in puddles and mud to make your walk that much more enjoyable.

Consider using trekking poles if you are concerned about injury. Trekking poles can make walking even more low-impact, and can be especially useful for people with joint pain or balance issues.  Taking trekking poles on your spring walking workout can improve your stability and allow you to try some harder routes, like going up or down hills.

Planning your routes

There are several things to take into consideration when planning your walking routes. The most important are pedestrian safety and making sure the route is a good match for your fitness level. Additionally, planning your trip around the elevation gain can be a helpful way to make a walk easier or harder. Most map or running apps now provide this information.  Routes with fresh air—not too much pollution from sources like car exhaust—can help you breathe easier on your walk. Research also shows that exercising in natural green environments can boost your mental health

This spring, more parks are opening up than ever before. This time of year can be a beautiful time to see wildflowers in many places, so consider starting off your spring walking workout with a nature hike. National Parks, which have been open and closed in various cycles because of the pandemic, are for the most part opening their gates again. More crowded parks may still have local ordinances around wearing masks, density of people, etc.

Getting the most out of your walk

There are so many great health benefits to walking, but some of them can be maximized with a few simple tweaks. First, consider the timing of your walk. If you have trouble sleeping, a walk in the morning—especially if you’re able to get some sun on your walk—can help you reset your circadian rhythm for better sleep that night. 

Consider what type of exercise you’re trying to get out of your walk. If you’re looking for some strength training, consider a walk with an uphill elevation gain. This can also help you build bone density with low-impact bodyweight exercise. If you’re looking to level up the cardio, consider a walk-to-jog plan or a route with softer ground, like sand, that can get your heart pounding.

If you’re looking to help manage your blood sugar, consider walking after a meal. Studies show a 10-minute walk after eating a meal can burn some of your blood sugar off on the walk—lowering your diabetes risk—so taking a walk after a meal really can help you stay in shape.

Walk-to-jog plans

A walk-to-jog plan can be a great way to build a workout routine into your life. To practice walking-to-jogging, begin with a regular walking routine of a set amount each day, such as anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Then, over time, begin jogging in short spurts in the middle of the walk. Gradually, over time, you can begin to jog for more and more of the walk until you have begun to jog for that whole length of time.

This can be formally practiced as part of a program like a Couch to 5k for some guidance on how to pace it, or it can be self-paced according to your body’s needs. If you try a walk-to-jog plan this spring, make sure to wear shoes that will be comfortable for jogging, drink plenty of water, eat a nutritious diet to fuel your jogging, and get plenty of rest after. Most important, take it easy and go at your body’s natural pace to avoid injury. Always warm up with a walk before starting the jogging.