Compared to couch potatoes, those who walk or run generally have stronger bones and hearts and healthier body weights. So, if you consistently do treadmill walks or go for brisk treks around the neighborhood, kudos. However, if you’d like to burn more calories without increasing your workout duration, you might want to progress from walking to running — here’s how.
Wear the Right Gear
Do you go for strolls in the same clothing you wear to work or the mall? You might want to invest in some kit to transition to jogging. A comfortable moisture-wicking T-shirt will serve you well, as will a pair of workout tights or track pants and some anti-chafing cream. Head to an athleisure store to get fitted for running shoes — running is a high-impact activity, so your feet need the assist.
Alternate Walking and Running
The key to swapping walking for running is to do it gradually. Start your workout with at least three minutes of fast-paced walking. Mentally prepare for the huffing and puffing that comes with running when you’re not as fit as you could be. And ease into it by switching between walks and runs during a session. Run to a speed bump or corner, then walk to the next and repeat. Or use a timer and alternate between a minute of running and two minutes of walking until you reach your 30 minutes for the day. Try to reduce your walking interval and increase your running interval over the next few months.
Newbie runners often make the mistake of doing too much too soon. Going from daily walks to daily runs is too much to ask and can lead to injury or burnout. Take days off or do mobility or strength training instead of cardio. Remember, even if you achieve the same speed, running works your muscles and joints differently than walking. So it doesn’t matter if you do a slow run because you get the benefits of diverse physical activity. Higher speeds and mileage will come with time.
Choose the Best Time of the Day
Your perceived effort and heart rate will be higher on hot and humid days. So if you’re making the leap from walking to running, opt for the early mornings or evenings when the weather will take less of a toll on your body. Be sure to hydrate. Going to a gym can help you skip temperature-related angst during summer and winter.
Pick Your Route Wisely
Uphill is easier on the knees than downhills and forge balanced runners. But if you’re still building your fitness, you can run out of gas on them, and you don’t want to feel wiped out towards the beginning of your workout. Still, walking up an incline is a good warm-up or cool-down. Once your fitness baseline improves, varied routes and hills become essential to injury-free running. Access to soft grassy paths rather than roads is a bonus, too.