Walking is great for your health! It’s one of the easiest, most inexpensive fitness activities you can do. Almost anyone can start walking, regardless of age, fitness level or experience. You can walk almost any place, any time and easily change up your routine to keep it fresh and interesting. The best thing about walking is … it’s fun!
Why Walking is Good For You
Walking is good for both your physical and mental health. It provides a low-impact cardiovascular exercise that can keep your weight down and your energy level up. A regular walking regimen reduces blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Walking is an easy fitness activity that you can continue for a lifetime.
Walking can also help relieve stress and make you feel better. The rhythmic motion of this activity releases endorphins, which improve your overall mood. Many people report that the stresses of work or other endeavors are minimized when walking, especially when done outside in a natural setting. Your creative juices may start to flow as well.
How far (and fast) should you walk?
The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity activity (like walking) per week for “substantial health benefits.” That’s about 8,000 steps per day. For “additional and more extensive health benefits,” you should increase to 300 minutes (5 hours). That’s over 10,000 steps per day!
For maximum health benefits, walking should be done at a “brisk pace.” For many, this is about 3mph (5kph). That means for a 10-minute walk, you’d end up traveling about a half-mile (0.8km).
If you’re just getting started, a brisk pace for you may be slower than this. Don’t worry! Experienced walkers may have no trouble walking even faster. In a USA Today piece, Miriam Nelson, Tufts professor and fitness researcher explains “Brisk means that you get warm while walking, and you can sense that your heart rate is slightly elevated.” (Read that great piece here).
Building Up Your Routine
A Stanford University study found that Americans, on average, take just 4,774 steps per day. That’s below the worldwide average is around 5,000 per day, putting the US at 30 out of 46 countries surveyed. Steps walked varies by location, with people in certain cities tending to walk more.
If you’re just starting out walking for health, try walking for 10 minutes or so three times a day. Short walks are easier to fit into your schedule and require less endurance. You will quickly build up your endurance and be able to walk for longer periods at a time and at a quicker pace. With a little effort and practice, you’ll find that you can make progress towards 10,000 steps per day or more!
Tips for Better Walking
Here are a few ideas to get moving and to stay safe while doing so:
- Start with a route that you know well, is flat, and free of obstacles.
- Wear good, comfortable shoes.
- Walk with friends.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Dress appropriately if walking outdoors.
- Always take your phone in case of emergencies (and to track with Pacer).
- Find a walking club in your community, or start your own!
Since you’re here, you’re probably already using Pacer to track your steps. The Pacer Pedometer app helps you track your steps over time, so you can see your progress and make sure you’re hitting your goals. Make sure to take your phone with you to track your steps accurately, and try putting other goals in Pacer to help you hit those as well.
One of the benefits of walking is the only real gear you need is a good pair of shoes! Investing in a good pair of walking shoes can have a huge impact in making walking easier and more enjoyable. Good walking shoes maximize comfort and support. Read more on how to choose the best pair of walking shoes here.
Make sure to wear the right clothing for the weather conditions in your area if you walk outside. If you’re walking at night, use these tips to stay safe and comfortable during your walks.
Even Thomas Jefferson recommended walking!
Third American President and founding father Thomas Jefferson, an avid walker, said “Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.”