A daily walking routine is a great way to get fit, lose weight and improve your health. However, with busy schedules and limited time to exercise, heading out the door for an hour or more at a time might seem daunting. Whether you want to build fitness, train for a marathon, or simply break your workout into shorter, more manageable walks, walking twice per day might be what you need to take your health and fitness to the next level.
Being sedentary for long periods of time during the day can lead to problems associated with obesity, heart disease, and other health-related illnesses. For this reason, adopting a routine that involves multiple walking sessions per day instead of just one can be beneficial.
If you’re just starting out, “shorter workouts can help improve consistency in a regular walking routine,” says Ben Fung, a physical therapist and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. What’s more, “it’s easier to tolerate for individuals who have injuries.”
Walking twice per day can also be an excellent way to increase overall exercise time without being forced to walk an hour or more in a single workout. “Shorter workouts can be especially helpful for individuals that have difficulty finding a long block of time to regularly dedicate to a meaningful bout of exercise,” says Fung. Even just 10 minutes of walking two or three times per day can really add up over time.
Like anything else, an increase in activity level requires time to adapt, and allowing yourself enough time to recover between workouts is important to stay injury-free.
“The body is resilient, and the average person can handle a spectrum of activities, but the key is dosage,” says Fung. This means instead of increasing the distance of every walk, a good starting point might be to increase the distance (or intensity) of one or two of your weekly walking workouts.
If you’re unsure about walking twice per day or increasing the amount of physical activity you participate in, it’s always a good idea to see a medical professional first. Regardless of your ability level, seeing a physical therapist can also help prevent injuries. “A physical therapist will start by testing your movement and strength, reviewing your past medical history and then provide insight on your workout regimens to help you meet your goals,” explains Fung. “This is especially important if you have a pre-existing condition.”
If you’re ready to do a double, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your walks:
- Alternate intensity. One of the benefits of micro sessions is the ability to up the intensity. Since your walk won’t be as long, you can speed up the pace to burn more calories and get more bang for your buck. Just remember to use caution, as doing too many high-intensity sessions can lead to injury. For this reason, including a short, higher intensity session in the morning and following it with an easier recovery walk in the evening is recommended.
- Have a set recovery period. While morning and evening walks usually work best when doing a double, you can always set your own schedule. Just make sure you allow at least 4–6 hours between sessions to let your body recover.
- Don’t forget to fuel. Working out more often requires a greater emphasis on hydration and nutrition. This means being properly hydrated pre-workout and refueling post-workout.