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Step Up Your Walking

Walking can be a great workout. Get ready to lace up those sneakers!

image of woman's lower legs in sneakers, walking away

Walking can be a great workout. Get ready to lace up those sneakers!

Walking for exercise is not the same as a leisurely stroll — it’s heart-pumping! It is also the most popular type of exercise among adults. Want to jump on the walking bandwagon? If you want to improve your overall fitness, try walking for exercise.

Step it up

If you have a health condition or are inactive, always get your doctor’s OK before beginning or ramping up your exercise. When you start your walking exercise program, warm up by walking at your everyday pace for at least 5 minutes. Then speed up. You may notice your heart beating faster and feel yourself taking deeper breaths. Keep up this quicker pace for as long as you feel comfortable.

To walk at a moderate pace, you should still be able to talk but not sing. While you walk:

  • Swing your arms
  • Keep your head up
  • Keep your tummy tucked in
  • Relax your neck, shoulders and back
  • Keep your back straight
  • Walk smoothly, heel to toe

To cool down, go back to walking at your everyday pace for 5 more minutes. You can then finish your workout with some gentle stretching.

Reap the rewards

If you walk regularly for exercise, your body will benefit. Walking can help strengthen your bones and muscles, lift your mood and help you burn calories.

Walking can also help cut your risk for several health problems including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. An added bonus: Walking is a safe, low-cost activity that can be done anywhere.

Setting goals

You should try to work your way up to walking for exercise for at least 5 days a week, 30 minutes each day. Healthy adults should try to reach this total of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. If you can only do 10 minutes at a time at first, that’s fine. Build up to 3 times a day.

For even bigger health benefits, you can work your way up to 5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week. That would mean walking for exercise for 5 days a week, 1 hour each day.

Whatever goal you set for yourself, know that you’re making a smart choice for your health by walking for exercise. Have a great walk!

Note: If you are physically inactive or you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy or other symptoms, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe and suitable for you.

By Lucy M. Casale, Editor


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Exercise walking. Accessed November 5, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity: Measuring physical activity intensity. Accessed November 5, 2020.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Weight-management. Walking: A step in the right direction. Accessed November 5, 2020.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. 2018. Accessed November 5, 2020.

Updated November 19, 2020