If you are walking daily for health and fitness, the experts say that you should add short bursts or “intervals” of fast walking to your routine.
The process is known as “interval walking,” and according to Harvard Health, it gets your heart rate up more than a regular walk.
An interval walk incorporates phases of fast and moderate walking to create a heart-pumping, challenging workout. You can mix and match the duration of each pace however you like, but generally, the majority of the walk is done at a moderate pace with the quicker pace sprinkled throughout.
It’s common to do this workout at a 2-to-1 ratio, meaning you walk at a moderate pace for double the amount of time of a fast pace (so, walk at a moderate pace for two minutes and follow it up with a faster one-minute walk), but it’s really up to you how you split it up.
During the moderate walking pace, you should be at about 30% to 40% of your maximum effort, said Kate Lemere, chief instructor at Barry’s Chicago. In other words, your walk should be at a pace that would allow you to hold a conversation.
During vigorous, fast intervals, she said, you’ll want to be around 70% of your maximum effort, a pace at which it should be more difficult to string together a complete sentence.
For people with busy schedules, this is a huge benefit of incorporating fast-slow intervals into a walk — or incorporating any kind of high-intensity interval training into exercise, for that matter. When you mix vigorous exercise with moderate exercise, those short bursts of vigorous exercise get you the same benefits of a slower walk in less time, the researchers say.
You could do a five-minute moderately paced interval followed by a fast minute-long interval, or one minute of moderate walking followed by 30 seconds of power walking. As long as you break up your slower intervals with at least 30 seconds of vigorous walking, you’ll be on your way to better health!