Walking for Fitness and Health

Walking is more than just a way to get around. Walking at any speed is a way to improve your fitness, burn calories, and reduce the health risks of inactivity. Walking the dog, walking in the park, or simply walking around your neighborhood at an easy pace keeps you active and can help you reap benefits.

You get even more benefits for health, fitness and weight loss by walking at a brisk walking pace that puts you into the moderate intensity exercise zone.

You can learn to walk faster by using the right posture, arm motion, and stride. Experts recommend a brisk walk for 30 minutes per day, five or more days per week to reduce health risks.

Top 10 Things to Know About Walking

1. Walking Can Help You Burn Fat and Lose Weight: When you walk for more than 45 minutes at a brisk pace, your body must burn stored fat. This helps you not only lose weight, but lose excess body fat.

2. You May Not Be Walking Right: You should work on good walking posture, arm motion, and foot motion to get the most out of a walking workout. Avoid these 10 walking mistakes to get the best results.

3. You Need the Right Walking Shoes: While you can take a walk in almost any footwear, you will be able to walk better with flat, flexible athletic shoes that fit right.

4. A Pedometer or Fitness Band Can Motivate You to Walk More: Whether you wear a Fitbit or an old-school waistband pedometer, you will probably walk more if it is tracking your steps each day. If you log 10,000 steps per day, you are likely meeting recommended activity goals.

5. Treadmill Walking Gives a Good Workout: You can avoid the weather and other outdoor walking hazards by enjoying treadmill walking workouts.

6. You Can Walk a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, or Marathon: Races aren't just for runners. Many events welcome walkers, both swift and slow. Here's how to train for a 5K (3.1 miles), 10K (6.2 miles)half marathon (13.1 miles), or marathon (26.2 miles) walk.

7. Walking is Good for Many Health Conditions: Walking for 30 minutes per day, five times per week is recommended for people with arthritis and for people with diabetes. Regular walking is recommended to prevent or manage many health conditions.

8. You Can Walk Solo or With Walking Friends: You don't need a team to enjoy walking, but it can be a great way to connect with others if you wish to do so. Walking alone or with your dog is a good way to get in a quick workout or break away for a longer stroll, but you can also make walking friends or join a walking club.

9. Walking Can Improve Your Mood: Taking a walk can help relieve stress, improve your mood, and allow you think more clearly.

There may be even more benefits if you walk in a park or natural area.

10. You Can Enjoy a Variety of Walking Workouts: You don't have to do the same walk every time. If you vary your speed and intensity, you can get more fitness benefits. Use these six walking workouts to mix it up.

If You’re Ready to Start Walking

Whether you are about to start a walking program or you've been walking regularly, it pays to work on your walking posture and stride to get the most benefits. Beginners should first prepare with a check-up and the right clothes and shoes. Everyone can then benefit from using the best walking technique for posture, arm motion, and stride. Use a schedule to build up your walking time and practice your technique.

Many people walk on a treadmill for an indoor workout. Outdoors, you can hit your favorite trail and add fitness walking poles and enjoy Nordic walking, if you like.

Living Better By Walking

If you walk more each day, you will reap the health benefits of reducing inactivity and being more physically active.

Walking can also enrich your life in other ways.

Next Steps for Your Walking Life

Once you have been walking more at home, work or school, you may now wish to take a more challenging walk or start exploring on foot.

A Word From Verywell

You got this. You started walking before you could speak in full sentences. Build your walking time and speed incrementally. Start with a 10- to 15-minute walk. Once that feels good, build up your time a few minutes for each outing. Slow and steady wins the race. Remember, at any speed, you're lapping everyone who is just sitting and thinking they should be exercising. Yes, walking is a real exercise.

If you keep at it, you will find training effects that kick in. You will be able to walk faster and tackle hills. What seemed impossible two months ago is now something you can do without stress. You will enjoy the confidence of knowing how far you can make it on your own two feet.

Sources:

2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans: Be active, healthy, and happy: Be active, healthy, and happy. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services; December 11, 2008.

American Diabetes Association. Walking – A great place to start! http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/types-of-activity/walking-a-great-place-to-start.html. May 19, 2015.

CDC. Physical activity for a healthy weight. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html. May 15, 2015.

CDC. Physical activity for arthritis. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/physical-activity-overview.html.May 9, 2016.

Depression (major depressive disorder) depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms. Mayoclinic. October 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495. 

More from Verywell in Walking

Learn more about Walking