16. Work your core before you lace up: Do 15 minutes of abs before your walk to “turn on” your core muscles and keep them engaged for the duration of your workout.
17. Walk sideways: Sure, you may get some stares, but stepping one foot over the other while facing sideways is a great way to work different muscles in your legs and hips. Switch sides so you balance your efforts.
18. Strengthen your walking muscles with yoga: To walk with good form, you need good spinal rotation, hip strength, and flexibility. Try this move from Susi Hately, a yoga teacher in Calgary, Canada: One leg against the wall With your right shoulder and hip touching a wall, bend your right knee to 90 degrees and push it into the wall (you should feel this in your left hip). Hold for three deep breaths and repeat on the other side. Other yoga poses that support your walking muscles: Warrior I, Warrior II and Triangle.
19. Go out when it’s gusty: A blustery day might make you feel like staying indoors, but it pays to walk in that kind of weather: The wind provides natural resistance with little risk of pain or strain, notes Hately.
20. Try pole prancing: You don’t have to be on a mountain trail to benefit from Nordic walking poles. “Poles add more upper body movement into your walk,” says Smith. “They’re a great way to boost intensity without carrying weights, which put a lot of stress on your joints.”
21. Buddy up: Walk with a friend to make the time fly by. Even better, head out with a pal who is slightly faster than you, so she inspires you to push yourself.
22. Repeat a mantra: Pick a phrase that resonates with you, and repeat it over and over again—it’s a powerful way to embrace the message in your everyday life. Whether it’s a favorite Sanskrit saying like “Om Namah Shivaya” (translation: “I honor the divinity within”) or something simpler, like “let go,” give it a try.
23. Go for a sensory stroll: Need a gentle, rejuvenating workout? On days when you feel wiped out before you start exercising, spend the first 10 minutes of your walk focusing on the sensations: Notice every part of your foot as it touches the ground, feel the blood pumping through your arms as they swing back and forth. During the next 10 minutes, bring that attention to your surroundings: What do you smell? What colors do you see? “Use an ‘off’ day to practice awareness while you walk,” says Smith.
24. Be nice to yourself: Understand that you’ll have good days and bad; days when you feel as if you could walk forever and others when it takes everything in you just to pull your sneaks out of the closet. “If you cut yourself some slack on a hard day, you’ll be more likely to find your excitement for walking again the next,” says Kersting.
25. Stretch yourself: Spend a little time cooling down after your walking workout and do a few simple stretches or yoga poses (Downward Facing Dog is a great, full-body release). This will help flush lactic acid out of your muscles, says Smith, which reduces stiffness and keeps you feeling ready to get out there again the next day.