Try These 10-Minute Walking Workouts to Get More Steps at Home

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When you're hunkered down at home, it's tempting to give into your sloth-like tendencies and skip your workouts. But as long as it's safe in your area to do so, a walk around the neighborhood may be just what you need. Or you can opt for an indoor walking workout.

These quick walking workouts can be done at home or outside to break up sedentary time at home.
Image Credit: Sharleen Chao/Moment/GettyImages

Because in the time of shelter at home and social distancing, the recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services still stands: Adults should get at least 150 minutes — or 30 minutes a day, five days a week — of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.

"Do something every day," says Josh Smith, CPT, of Alpha Omega Personal Fitness. "Ten minutes every day will make a big difference. Something is always better than nothing."

Walking fits the bill perfectly! You don't even have to do 30 minutes all at once — you can break it into 10-minute increments. So when you need an afternoon pick-me-up but you're short on time, try of of these three quick walking workouts.

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Workout #1: Walking in Place

Under stay-at-home orders, "going for a walk" might mean something a little different to each person. If you feel more comfortable staying inside, you can get a workout by combining walking in place with quick conditioning moves. Smith recommends this 10-minute workout:

  • 1 minute of marching in place
  • 1 minute of squats
  • 20 seconds of lunges
  • 20 seconds of marching in place
  • 20 seconds of butt kickers
  • Repeat this circuit for 6 minutes.
  • 1 minute of cooldown stretching

Your workout might be short, but Smith says don't skip the stretching at the end. "Make sure to properly stretch before and after each workout to avoid injury," he says. "You'll also see better performance overall."

If you need a little something extra, add resistance with farmers' walks, says Nicholas Rizzo, fitness research director for RunRepeat.com. Hold heavy weights (dumbbell, kettlebell, etc.) in each hand while walking quickly from point A to point B and back.

"It is a great from of cardio and conditioning that also builds full-body strength and improves posture," he says. If you don't have weights, Rizzo recommends loading up heavy-duty bags with weights products such as peanut butter, bags of rice or water bottles.

Workout #2: Using the Stairs

In lieu of a stair-stepping machine, use what's available to you: your actual staircase. First, brush up on proper form for a few key strength-training exercises.

Move 1: Calf Raises

  1. Stand with your feet half hanging off the top step.
  2. Press through the balls of your feet to lift your heels up until you're standing on tiptoes.
  3. Lower back down with control.

Move 2: Squats

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Hinge at your hips and bend your knees (as if you were going to sit in a chair) while keeping your chest up.
  3. Either raise your arms out in front of you at shoulder height for balance or bring your hands up to your chest.
  4. Once you've lowered as far as your hip flexibility will allow, squeeze your glutes and stand back up.

Move 3: Lying Leg Raises

  1. Lie on your back with your feet extended out straight. Place both hands under your tailbone for support.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles as you lift both feet off the ground and lift your legs until they're perpendicular to the ground.
  3. Lower them back down with control.

Move 4: Forward Punches

  1. Hold your hands in an on-guard position at chest level.
  2. With each step, punch one arm straight out in front of you. If you're stepping with the left leg, punch with the right arm.
  3. Draw the arm back and switch the arm and leg you use.

Move 5: Knee to Elbow

  • Each time you take a step up, draw your knee all the way up to meet your elbow. Your right elbow will tap your right knee and your left elbow will tap your left knee.

Move 6: Wall Push-Ups

  1. Stand a few feet away from a wall, bracing yourself against it with arms shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the wall.
  3. Press back up to the starting position.

Now incorporate them into this quick workout from Hannah Wright, certified exercise physiologist, of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital's Weight Management Program. When you add it all up, it'll only requires 10 minutes of your time.

  • 1 minute walk or jog
  • 30-second rest
  • 1 minute walk or jog + 10 calf raises at the top of each flight
  • 30-second rest
  • 1 minute walk or jog + 5 squats at the top of each flight
  • 30-second rest
  • 1 minute walk or jog + 5 lying leg raises at the top of each flight
  • 30-second rest
  • 1 minute walk or jog + forward punches on each stair
  • 30-second rest
  • 1 minute walk or jog + knee to elbow on each stair
  • 30-second rest
  • 1 minute walk or jog + 5 wall push-ups at the top of each flight

Workout #3: Getting Outside

As long as you can stay a safe six feet away from other people on the sidewalk, outdoor walking can be a safe and healthy form of exercise — even if it's just for 10 minutes at a time.

Tim Liu, certified strength and conditioning coach of Tim Liu Fitness, has an easy workout suggestion for outdoor walks: "Map out a small distance with an ending point [like a block or two], and perform walking lunges until you reach it," he says. "Once you're done, power-walk back to the starting position."

If you want something a little more structured for when you're outside, try this workout from Smith:

  • 2-minute walking warm-up
  • 45-second brisk walk
  • 15-second slower recovery
  • Repeat 7 times.
  • 60-second slower cooldown
  • Stretch

For the best results, don't just saunter down the street — walk with intention, says physical therapist Carrie Boyer of FitNFunForTheLongRun.com. "Walk quickly and intentionally, alternating arms at sides with elbows slightly bent, upright posture, with abdominals engaged," she says. "For extra muscle toning, squeeze buttock of back leg during toe-off stage of gait."

Additionally, if you want to increase the intensity of your outdoor walk, Rizzo recommends strapping on a heavy backpack. This turns simple walking into a form of active resistance training that combines weight-bearing and cardiovascular exercise, he says.

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