You know that shorter bouts of high intensity intervals can be more effective than one long slog of a run or bike ride. Well, it turns out that less intense intervals have benefits over steady state exercise, too. According to a recent study conducted at The Ohio State University, altering your walking pace can help to burn around 20 percent more calories than keeping a consistent speed.
Rather than using the traditional method of manually changing the pace of the treadmill, subjects were asked to change their own speed (by moving to the front or back of the treadmill) while the machine’s speed was constant. The results showed that nearly eight percent of the energy put forth from walking could be due to simply starting up and stopping. In other words, it burns more calories to stop and then start walking again—or to change your pace—than it does to just continue walking along at the same speed.
“Walking at any speed costs some energy, but when you're changing the speed, you're pressing the gas pedal, so to speak," study author Nidhi Seethapathi said in a release. "Changing the kinetic energy of the person requires more work from the legs and that process certainly burns more energy."
So, the best way to burn calories on the heel-toe express? Change up your walking routine. But that doesn't have to be just by walking at different speeds. In fact, you can do many kinds of "weird things," according to Manoj Srinivasan, co-author of the study. This could be something as simple as walking with extra weight (like a weight vest) or in a zig-zag pattern.