If you’ve ever gotten down on yourself for “just” walking for your workout, know this: It’s actually a fantastic form of exercise. Are you nearly out of breath and dripping in sweat after a walk? Maybe, maybe not. Are you suddenly feeling more energized and full of a certain je ne sais quoi that lifts your mood? Probably.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of walking, for those who are able to do it: It’s usually fuss-free. You can throw on a pair of sneakers, grab a friend (or your dog) for company, and head out the door. And you can even sip a cup of coffee or a smoothie while you stroll.
“Walking is accessible to most skill levels, can be absolutely invaluable for decreasing stress and lowering anxiety, and for some, it can be cardiovascular and muscle-building, depending on how you do it,” Philadelphia-based certified personal trainer BB Arrington tells SELF. “It’s one of the easiest things we can do to improve our health.”
Even though enjoying fresh air is part of the appeal of walking for many people, you can’t always get outside. Maybe it’s raining, or it’s dark out, or it’s really effing cold and you don’t feel like bundling up. It could also be that there isn’t a clear or safe walking path where you live, or you’re just more of an indoor person. This is where the treadmill can be clutch.
But if you’ve ever hopped on with a positive, can-walk attitude only to stare at the display the whole time, you know that a minute on a treadmill can go by so, so slowly. The thing is, treadmill walking workouts can be enjoyable and—hear us out—kind of exciting. If you use a few strategies to spice them up, that is. We asked Arrington for her best tips for stepping up the fun factor and taking your treadmill walking workout to a new level.
Step to the beat.
“One of my favorite tools to make walking more exciting is to use music,” says Arrington. Research suggests that listening to music during exercise can help increase your heart rate, muscle activation, and motivation, and may even make exercise feel less hard.
Arrington recommends creating a playlist specifically for your indoor walking workouts that gets you excited to move. (Might we suggest this feel-good dance-pop mix?) And you can also consider taking things up a notch by turning each song into an interval workout, which means increasing and decreasing the intensity of your walk throughout. “I like to use the musicality or energy of a song to inform the intensity,” Arrington says. “It’s similar to a spin class where they match the song with the effort.”
Here’s how to do it: First, warm up by walking at a slower speed (this will be different for each person, but it should feel like a casual stroll) for one or two songs, which will help get your heart rate up. Then, at the start of a new song, break it up using these intervals: