Can Walking 3 Miles a Day Tone Your Body?
By Bob Haring
, last updated March 19, 2012
Walking is basic exercise. It's something we do from infancy to old age and do every day. Most adults walk several thousand steps a day, but how those steps are taken can make a difference in muscle and body tone. Walking can help improve overall health and prevent premature death, but walking three miles a day can also help keep arm and leg muscles toned..
Walking three miles a day will strengthen your heart and lungs, improve your stamina and tone your muscles at the same time. Start every walk with a warm-up, a slow walk of about five minutes followed by some simple stretching, before you set out. If you are a beginning walker, start with very short walks and gradually build up to your three-mile goal. It should take you 45 minutes to an hour to walk three miles.
Look for routes that offer challenges, like hills. Walking on flat ground all the time won't affect muscle tone as much. Walking uphill builds thigh and calf muscles; walking downhill tones different leg muscles. Be sure to keep your regular stride and posture as you walk hills. Start out with small hills and work up to steeper ones. You should see some difference in toning in a few weeks.
Don't disregard your arms while walking -- you can tone them at the same time. Mostly swing your arms naturally as you walk, but work in some special toning by bending your arms to your sides and aggressively pushing and pulling them as you walk. Another option is exaggerated arm swings, lifting each arm vertically with every step, or swinging the arms from side to side across your body. Add weights if you wish, but keep them light so you don't strain your shoulders.
Have some fun with your toning walk. Skip a few yards. Walk backward for a short distance. Do exaggerated movements, like skate strides and lunges. In skate striding, you step as though you were speed skating; in lunging, you take a big step forward with one leg and then the other. Do high knee lifts, bringing your knee up toward your chest as you step. Try some butt kicks -- bend your knee as though you were trying to touch your hip. All these walk variations will tone different muscles.
Vary your walks in speed and locale. Use different three-mile routes so you don't get bored. Use a walk to explore a neighborhood or see sights if you're on vacation or visiting out of town, but try to walk the same distance every day. Do a form of interval training -- walking a block as fast as you can, then slowing down to recover. Once you build up your distance, you should start seeing a difference in your legs and hips. But keep walking; you can lose muscle tone as fast as you build it.