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Is walking an effective way to exercise?

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”  ~ Friedrich Nietzsche  (I totally agree :))

There is no quick, simple answer to the question about the effectiveness of walking.  Although walking is an easy and affordable way to exercise, it truly depends on how much effort one puts into it.  So let’s delve deeper into walking and find out if it is right for you…

 

Tips for Proper Walking walking

To turn your regular walk into a real fitness stride, you need to maintain both purposeful movements and great posture.    This list should give you a pretty good idea on how effective walking looks:

  • Keep your head up.
  • Look forward.
  • Avoid looking at the ground.
  • Keep your back relaxed.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Keep your neck relaxed.
  • Keep your elbows bent slightly.
  • Swing your arms loosely.
  • For a higher intensity workout, swing your arms even more.
  • Keep your stomach muscles slightly tensed.
  • Keep your back straight, as if there is a string on the top of your head pulling you up from the sky.
  • Walk smoothly.
  • Roll your foot from heel to toe.
  • Avoid pounding your feet on the ground.

 

What Else Should I Know?

A brisk daily walk can help you life a longer, healthier life.  Walking is also helpful in maintaining your optimal weight.  It can also help us improve our mood.   And, it helps enhance your coordination and balance.  And it can improve your circulation and endurance.   And it has been shown to increase creativity and productivity.  All that from such a simple activity!

Experts seem to agree that most adults should aim for about 30 to 45 minutes of physical activity each day, on most days of the week.  Guidelines suggest having a goal of about 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.

Walking is a great exercise for those who are obese or those with back, hip, or knee issues because it is low impact.  Keep in mind that the faster, the farther, and the more often that you walk, the better results that you will get.

Best Walking AdviceWalking

Here are some of my favorite tips for getting the most out of walking:

  • Wear shoes or sneakers that are meant for walking.
  • Your footwear should support your arches well and provide a firm foundation on the sole and heel.
  • Choose socks that help absorb shock and moisture to help keep you comfortable.
  • Select clothing in visible colors, especially if you are walking near the street.
  • Wear clothing with reflective tape or materials if you are walking at dusk or night.
  • Plan ahead for the weather and wear water-resistant clothing if needed.
  • Stretch both before and after your walk.
  • Only walk where you will be safe.  Avoid potholes and uneven sidewalks.
  • If it is hot and sunny, consider wearing a hat and sunscreen with SPF 30+.
  • Consider places to walk indoors, such as shopping malls.
  • Find a walking club in your area.
  • Start your own walking club.
  • Walk in well-lit areas.
  • Find hills to walk on to increase cardiovascular fitness.
  • Stay well hydrated before, during and after your walk.
  • Take a walk after a meal to help boost your metabolism.
  • Add extra walking during every day tasks, such as parking farther from the grocery store.
  • Keep an extra pair of walking shoes in your car – you might have the chance to take a quick walk.

 

Making Walking Even More Fun and Interesting

Let’s face it, it is easier to stick with something if we find it to be highly enjoyable.  Here are my best tips:

  • Wear an activity tracker.  To read my related article on that topic, please click here.
  • Keep a walking journal.  Looking back on your accomplishments is a great motivator!
  • Find times to walk and schedule them on your calendar.
  • Vary your walking routine by finding different paths to take.
  • Try listening to your favorite music while you walk.
  • Learn to love the stairs (avoid the escalator or elevator).
  • Buy a fun new water bottle.
  • Freeze water in your bottle, as it will melt along the way and stay nice and cold.
  • Take your dog for a nice walk.
  • Ask your child, a neighbor, a co-worker, or a friend to join you for a walk.
  • Plan a walk with your family and help your loved ones enjoy better health.
  • Walk in nature, which is an instant mood-booster.
  • Try varying your intensity during your walk to turn it into an effective interval workout.
  • Carry 1-2 lb hand weights.
  • Avoid ankle weights, as they can cause injuries.
  • Use a walking stick.
  • Set realistic goals.  For example, 10,000 steps per day is a popular goal for walking each day. Start with 500o steps and work up.
  • To calculate how quickly you are walking, divide the total number of steps you walk in one minute by 30.  For example, 90 steps per minute would be equivalent to walking 3 mph.
  • Find a walking race to train for, such as a 5K.

 

Putting it all together…

As someone who has been an avid walker for decades, I believe that walking is one of the best exercises ever.  It can be done by almost anyone, almost anywhere, almost anytime.  It’s free, easy, and fun.  And it can also help us sleep better at night.

Before you begin a walking exercise program, you should let your doctor know.  This is especially important if you are obese, have any chronic health conditions, or have not exercised in a while.

Physical activity doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated.  And it doesn’t get much simpler than walking.  All that you really need is a good pair of shoes.  Now that you have read my primer on everything you need to know about walking, go take that first step!  You will immediately feel better.

Remember what Hippocrates said… “Walking is man’s best medicine. ”

Walking can be a wonderful way to clear your head and refresh your soul.  It is also a great stress-reliever.  If you love walking as much as I do, please leave me a comment below.  I appreciate any tips or techniques that you can share!  Thanks!

Brian

20 Comments

  1. since we got our dog my legs have felt much fitter because I walk everyday for quite a long distance, and I feel much better for it. Even my lungs feel better for the air they get everyday. I would agree that great posture is the right way to walk if you want to walk to the best of your abitly to be fit and healthy.

    • Hi Jayde, thank you for reading my article and leaving such great comments.  I agree with you that dogs are great friends to help us walk more often.  Our little dog Jake passed away a few months ago, and we are almost ready to find a new pet to bring home.  This will help me walk even more, which will definitely be great for our health.  As you said, the fresh air is also great.  Keep up the walking and remember to walk tall.  Be well.  Wishing you the best!  Thanks again, Brian

  2. Hi Brian,

    I believe this is an excellent article about walking and it’s effective way to exercise which is widely and globally accepted by many doctors, scientists and health specialists. Some time we forgot walking for urgency and use transport for specific distance thus we lost walking benefit. Your article reminds me everything and I am going to share this with my friends and family member. Thanks for your effort on this informative article.

    • Hello, and thank you for your comments.  I am happy to hear that my article helped to remind you of the importance of walking, no matter how you fit it into your day.  My doctor told me the other day that “sitting is the new smoking”, and I believe he is right.  Please let me know if you would like any additional information or if I can answer any walking questions for you.  Best wishes to you and your family and friends!

  3. i bet i have been walking for avery long time but i feels like nothing when going through this blog is like i know nothing about walking  we have been told walking is good for our health but they never tell us the best way to walk the best posture for walking that we are never told , thenks the blog it means alot and really draws a new perspective in our walking style

    • Hello Charles, I am so glad that you liked my article about the many benefits of walking.  It is easy to make small changes, such as good posture, stride, and breathing, to allow you to get even more out of your walks.  Thank you so much for your comments, and please let me know if you need any additional information.  Wishing you all the best, Brian

  4. Hi, Brian, I love walking and I thank you for this awesome and detailed article which I can agree with everything you have said.

    I started walking in 2003 due to some health issues, I have to say that I always loved walking but never done it in a conscious way for a purpose. I started with a walking distance of 500 meters and slowly increased and, over time I walked further and further and now being able to walk 10 kilometers in one setting.

    Walking in nature is beautiful and I prefer it over going to the gym and stepping on a treadmill.

    However, going on a treadmill when you live in the countryside and, Winter can be harsh here in Canada, is always a good choice too.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Hello Sylvia,  I am so glad that you enjoyed my article, and even more glad to hear that you have experienced the benefits of walking.  I agree that walking in nature is the best, but I admit that I do use a treadmill on days like today when the weather is frigid and windy here in New Jersey.  But it’s January, so what do I expect?  I was also glad to hear that you based your distance on how you were able to handle it.  Starting out slowly and safely is always a smart decision, and then we can gradually increase our distance and pace as we get fitter.  Thank you so much for sharing your comments, and please let me know if there is any other information I can provide.  Best wishes, Brian

  5. Thanks for the informative post about fitness! Thanks for enumerating how to go about walking for the ideal exercise and good posture! Much appreciated! I never knew there’s a particular way I have to do the walking, especially how I must position the head, the shoulders, the back and all other parts of the body. This is really awesome to me and I’m following this guide sheepishly to carry out my walking exercise henceforth.

    For the fact that walking can help one sleep better at night and is full of fun, I’ll have to consider doing the walking exercise frequently henceforth. Thanks for the great work!

    Israel Olatunji

    • Hello, Israel.  You are so right about posture being important to maximize the benefits you’ll get from walking.  It will help you step better, as well as breathe more effectively.  We find that walking after dinner is a great way to end the day, spend time together as a family, improve our digestion. and enhance our sleep.  Thank you so much for your comments, and I hope you will let me know how your walking goes.  Wishing you all the best, Brian

  6. Hi Brian – I felt tired just reading that 🙂 I confess I’m a ‘part-time’ walker. We have friends who are avid walkers and go out with them when we get together, usually through the countryside or along the beach. We’re often out for 3-4 hours but we don’t walk as per your suggestions. We more amble than walk. At the end of it I feel quite ‘exercised’ and I’m sure it has done me some good but it’s obviously not the sort of workout you’re writing about. Would a 4-hour amble be the equivalent of a 30-minute walk, do you think?

    When I had a dog we used to go out twice a day, typically for 30 mins then 50 minutes. Again, this was more an amble than a walk becuase you have to wait while he sniffs and checks out the doggy newspaper. However, since I stopped doing that I have put on a lot of weight so I think it must have ben doing me some good 🙂

    Finally, a friend has a fitness tracker and set himself a target which he achiees every day religiously. I think they are great motivators and I’m tempted to try one but I know my motivation is low 🙁 Can you recommend one for an ‘ambbler’ that might get me motivated to step out more? What do you think of the fitness apps you get on phones?

    Thanks for a much-detailed article. I hope to get backl to walking soon :-)Ian

    • Hi there, Ian – I think that your long walks definitely qualify as a great workout.  Great job!  Our dog passed away a few months ago, and I notice that we have been walking a bit less these days.  You gave me a good reminder to walk anyway.   The good news is that we are looking for a new dog!  Also, I used a FitBit fitness tracker to count my steps.  It is motivating for sure – it feels great to reach my daily goal.  I recently increased my goal for daily steps to 12,000 from 10,000.  I think you would enjoy this, too.  Hope you get back to walking soon.  Thanks so much for your comment, and please let me know if there is anything else I can help with.

  7. Of course walking is man best medicine,i believe trekking is the easiest and most convenient exercise.it requires a shoe that fit to the leg so well, thanks for providing these great tips for proper trekking, I do trek some few distance everyday and I will surely implement this tips. Thank you.

    • Hello Clement!  I am so happy to hear that you enjoy trekking as much as I do.  Besides what we eat, our physical activity is always our best medicine.  Well said!  Thank you very much for your comment, and I am interested in where you live and what areas are available for walking.  

  8. I do know walking is an exercise but I didn’t know about it’s effectiveness it’s something that can be done everyday both most times i do take a bus because of the long distance of walking which now makes makes me wonder if excessive walking can also be classified as exercise?

    • Hello!  I believe that walking is one of the best exercises there is.  It is simple, easy, inexpensive, and can be done by practically anyone.  I have a suggestion for you:  to help get more walking into your day, maybe get off at an earlier bus stop and walk a bit to your destination.  Of course, the weather and suitability of the route for walking should always be kept in mind.  Safety first.  Thank you very much for your comment, and please let me know if there is any other information I can provide about walking.

  9. Hi, I have always heard that walking is a good exercise. But I did not observe the reason of this universal truth. Now I found a thorough analysis of this good exercise and it’s multiple benefit. Now I also know why doctors advice for walking regularly. I am going to share it with my followers and use your tips to guide them. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Hi there!  Thank you so much for sharing your comments about the benefits of walking.  It is truly a universal way to exercise.  No matter where you are, as long as you have some comfortable shoes, you are all set.  And better yet, barefoot walking on the beach.  Right now, here in New Jersey, that is months away for me LOL.   Best wishes to you and thanks again,  Brian

  10. I completely agree that walking is a great way to keep fit, but your tips are really useful with regard to the way you walk and how you walk.

    Also your tip to stretch before and after is one tip that I will definitely be taking on board.

    And as you say,  all in the countryside certainly does lift your mood, and also it is a great place to let your mind crystallise your ideas. I have found that whilst walking I have managed to solve problems which were concerning me as well as getting great exercise.

    I have an app on my phone which monitors the steps and distance which I cover, and I do find that that is really good motivation.

    Many thanks for your encouragement to walk to feel fit.

    Chrissie 🙂

    • Hi Chrissie,  you are so right about the importance of stretching well before walking.  It makes the walk safer and better for your limbs.  I also agree that it is fun (and motivating) to track one’s steps.  When I get home from walking, I usually track my distance and # steps on my wall calendar.  Super way to stay motivated and reach for higher goals.  Thanks for reading my article and taking the time to comment.  Wishing you all the best,  Brian

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