Get some ideas of how to turn a walk into an outdoor interval training workout to get the added benefits of a high intensity workout.

High intensity workouts burn more calories minute per minute than low intensity workouts. There are some other benefits too.

Reportedly, high intensity workouts curb appetites better than lower intensity ones and most who do them feel the “runner’s high” after that is not always felt by those who do low intensity workouts.

The problem is that some high intensity style workouts like running can be hard on joints, especially if you are carrying a few extra pounds or have arthritic or otherwise, achy joints.  We’ve been posting some exercises to the Hello Workout Facebook page this week to help strengthen key muscles and correct other muscle imbalances common to runners.  

We’ve also been experimenting with incorporating running into some of our own cardio workouts this week and turned one of our walks into an outdoor interval workout.  We’re liking it so much that we want to share it with you as an example of something you could do too to turn a low intensity workout into a more high intensity one.

San Francisco has an abundance of hills and outdoor stairs which makes it easier to vary the intensity.  If you live somewhere flat, you could use the stairs to a public building (think Rocky), step up and down on a bench or incorporate some stair climbing type exercises, like mountain climber into your workout.

We’ve summarized the elements of our workout and how we put the elements together for an outdoor interval workout.

Start with a brisk walk: Our workout started with a brisk walk to the base of the stairs located on a very large steep hill.  The walk was long enough to warm up our muscles, stretch out our hip flexors and relax with some deep breaths to forget the worries of our day.

Jog up and down the stairs: We jogged up the stairs one by one rather than running up them a few at a time.  You could do it either way, but we wanted to focus on taking small quick steps to practice the footwork needed for tennis.

Run the flats:  After raising our heart rate on the stairs, running the flat sections just felt good, so we ran all flat sections.

Walk the Steep Hills: Steep hills can be particularly hard on the knee joints so we focused on working our quads to slow us down on the way down and focused on pushing off  with each step to work our hamstrings and glutes on the way up the other side.

Cool down with a walk and stretch: We ended the workout with a walk to bring down our heart rate and completed the workout with one of our favorite mini workouts to stretch.

Stringing it together, our workout went like this:

1. Warm up walk that includes gradual hills to gradually raise the heart rate.
2. J
og up stairs to practice footwork and get the blood really pumping
3. Run flat section.
4. Walk down steep hill focusing on quads and up the other side focusing on using hamstrings and glutes.
5. Jog down stairs to practice the footwork again.
6. Run flat section.
7. Cooled down with a short walk
8. End with a stretch.

It was so much better than working out on a stair master or treadmill and was probably more challenging.  It took us less than an hour to do our course and was intense enough to feel the runner’s high.  

Try it and join us on Facebook to share your workout.