How To Up The Wellness Benefits Of A Hot Girl Walk If It's Your Only Source Of Exercise

Walking is no longer just a practical, low-cost way to get from point A to point B. Thanks to TikTok, it's been rebranded with the Megan Thee Stallion-inspired moniker "hot girl walk," or HGW if you're busy walking and can't be bothered to type out the whole name. To date, the #hotgirlwalk hashtag on the social media platform has racked up over 736 million views, proving that walking can be just as appealing as other forms of fitness.

Mia Lind, the TikToker who coined the term in a 2021 clip, says that an HGW is about more than just moving your body — it's also a chance to practice gratitude, manifest your goals, and celebrate yourself. Whether you reflect on one of these three things or something else, you'll likely notice the mood-boosting benefits of your HGW. According to WebMD, walking has a positive effect on the nervous system, helping you manage stress better and ease symptoms of some mental health conditions. There are also plenty of physical health benefits. Going for a stroll can protect your heart, tone your muscles, lower blood sugar levels, and even extend your lifespan, per Healthline.

If you've already incorporated hot girl walks into your routine, why not take things up a notch? Follow these tips to maximize your trek around the neighborhood.

Change up your movement and speed

To turn your HGW into a full-blown cardio workout, try switching up your typical movements and speed for more challenging ones. "Along your route, stop to do some bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, skaters, or even bench hops," Noam Tamir, strength coach and founder of TS Fitness in New York City, told Shape. "You'll work other areas of the body, while still keeping your heart rate raised." Another way to experiment: Walk to an upbeat playlist. Try moving to your favorite music, transforming a casual walk into a dancey strut. You might be so busy vibing, you hit your 10,000 step goal without even noticing.

You can also try upping your walking speed. "The key is to walk at a brisk pace that gets the heart rate up and makes you work harder," Dr. Lauren Elson, medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report Walking for Health, explained to Harvard Health Publishing. You'll know you're at your sweet spot when you're breathing heavily but still able to speak in short sentences. Alternate a few minutes of slow walking with 30 seconds of faster power walking. "Eventually, you can work up to longer periods of brisk walking and shorter rest periods," Dr. Elson added.

Combine walking and weight training

You might prefer the simplicity of walking, but weight training can also do wonders for your health. Hear us out: Adding weights to your workout can boost strength and flexibility, protect your bones from deterioration, lower your risk of falling or getting injured in daily life, and help you burn more calories (if that's your goal), according to Healthline. You don't have to ditch your HGW to reap the benefits — you can combine both for a powerful two-in-one routine.

Before you grab your weights and hit the pavement, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. "Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, told Healthline. Carry mini dumbbells for only part of your walk and put them down if you get too fatigued. As for ankle weights, it's best to skip them altogether. Terry Downey, a physical therapist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, revealed to Harvard Health Publishing that weights worn on the ankles put the focus on your quadriceps and ankle joints rather than your hamstrings, which can lead to muscle imbalance and injuries.

Think vertically

An HGW on flat land is already a great way to move your body, but if you're ready to up the benefits, go up — literally. For hot girl walkers on treadmills, try increasing the incline of your machine (the 12-3-30 workout method is a good place to start), and if you're the type to head outside for a stroll, look for hills and stairs that'll activate your muscles and have you working up a major sweat.

If you think walking uphill or climbing stairs is only good for your legs, think again. "Incline walking is a full-body exercise," Jordan Allison, a personal trainer and sports medicine expert, shared with Well+Good. "You could expect to see improvements in your exercise tolerance, improve trunk/core, and lower extremity muscular strength such as your legs, abdominal strength, and overall endurance." If you choose to take the stairs, you'll experience similar benefits, and likely in little time. A 2017 research article published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that just 30 minutes of stair climbing per week can boost cardiorespiratory fitness.

Turn your walk into a mental health practice

On TikTok, Mia Lind's original hot girl walk concept was just as much about mental health as it was about physical health — so besides getting your heart rate up and strengthening your muscles, be sure to prioritize your mind during your exercise too. If a particular podcast or genre of music always seems to slow your thoughts and ease your mind, make it a part of your HGW playlist. You can also try listening to a guided meditation or even creating a meditation of your own. Some proponents swear by "walking meditation," where you remain aware of your body and how it moves during your stroll. And if you're always tethered to your phone, put it in "do not disturb" and practice mindfulness by taking note of the sights, sounds, and smells you encounter during your HGW.

Another way to make your HGW work for your mental health is to invite another hot girl to join you. According to WebMD, walking with a friend can lift your mood, enhance self-esteem, and help manage mental health conditions like depression.

Finally, consider changing up your environment. If you're surrounded by concrete, head to a park or forested area if possible. A 2019 research review published in Science Advances concluded that spending time in nature promotes happiness, emotional well-being, and brain health.