Ever Heard of “Interval Walking”? You Need To Know About It!

Not ready for this? Consider interval walking then.

Not ready for this? Consider interval walking then.

Compared to a regular continuous walking program, interval walking is superior for improving physical fitness, body composition (body mass and fatness), and blood sugar control according to new research reported in Diabetes Care.  Study participants were type 2 diabetics.

Training groups were prescribed five sessions per week (60 min/session) and were controlled with an accelerometer and a heart-rate monitor. Continuous walkers performed all training at moderate intensity, whereas interval walkers alternated 3-min repetitions at low and high intensity. Before and after the 4-month intervention, the following variables were measured: VO2max, body composition, and glycemic control (fasting glucose, HbA1c, oral glucose tolerance test, and continuous glucose monitoring.

I haven’t read the full report yet, but expect that the interval walkers walked as fast as they could for three minutes (4 mph?) then slowed down to a comfortable stroll (1–2 mph?) for three minutes, alternating thusly for 60 minutes.

This should easily do-able for nearly all type 2 diabetics.  The reported results jive with other studies of more vigorous and intimidating interval training.  The only caveat is that it was a small pilot study that may or may not be reproducible.

Steve Parker, M.D.

One response to “Ever Heard of “Interval Walking”? You Need To Know About It!

  1. But why walk for 60 minutes? Surely you could generate the same physiological changes by walking for much less time.
    I’d assume that 20 – 30 minute walks would suffice…on the basis of less often during any one week. The problem with stop/go walking like that is that it is emotionally stressful — that’s 20 ‘intervals’ per 60 minutes. Straightaway you lose some of the advantages of walking per se and I’m sure you’d dogs would object.

    I’d think that another approach would be to not only reduce your walking session but load the intervals with stressors like heavyhands.
    or trekking poles.

    With heavyhands you could reduce the interval length maybe to half.

    I’ve used both to great effect and was a dedicated 80s heavyhands user.

    Similarly if you rode a bike or kickscooter — intervals like this are dead easy — so long as you aren’t in traffic, I’ve found, as that makes HIIT on the roadway dangerous.