I sit on a ball on top of my desk treadmill which I barely use these days because it is too hot in my attic. I am not a smart man. But I have just become smarter. Researchers at the Ohio State University have discovered that you burn more calories walking at varying paces than plodding along at one pace. In short, if you’re on a treadmill you need to slow down and speed up to get maximum results.
“Most of the existing literature has been on constant-speed walking. This study is a big missing piece,” said Manoj Srinivasan, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “Measuring the metabolic cost of changing speeds is very important because people don’t live their lives on treadmills and do not walk at constant speeds. We found that changing speeds can increase the cost of walking substantially.”
In short, most of the energy we expend walking happens when we start and stop and speed up. Walking at a steady pace does little to increase calorie count and could even encourage us to overestimate our calorie usage. But even slowing down and speeding up the treadmill can reduce the efficacy of your walk because the treadmill does the hard work. The researchers recommend “walking in a way that feels unnatural.”
“How do you walk in a manner that burns more energy? Just do weird things. Walk with a backpack, walk with weights on your legs. Walk for a while, then stop and repeat that. Walk in a curve as opposed to a straight line,” said Srinivasan.
Walk hard, desk cowboy or girl. Walk hard.