Should you walk (almost) every day? For healthy adults, the answer is yes! Making walking a daily habit is the best way to keep up your 10,000 steps or whatever your personal step goal happens to be. Creating a daily habit means you won’t have to come up with the motivation to walk – it’s just something you’ll do naturally!
It’s important to note that a daily walking habit doesn’t mean that you have to walk literally every day. To maintain a long-term walking habit, your goal should be to prevent injuries while keeping your walking habit fresh and interesting. That means building rest days into your schedule, while ensuring that you do walk on the days that you plan to get active. This way, you can add in some intense walking workouts, get enough rest, and feel better overall. Here’s how you can walk (almost) every day safely and effectively!
Can You Walk Every Day?
Why should you walk (almost) every day? Walking is actually one of the few exercises that you can do every day without burning out or overtraining. In fact, the more regularly you walk, the more it benefits your health. Walking is a relatively low impact exercise, which puts less strain on your joints than higher-impact activities like running.
Almost everyone does some walking every day, even if it’s only walking around the house or doing a quick errand. For long-distance fitness walking or more intense walking workouts, you’ll want to see the effect it has on your body to determine whether you should take your walk every day or build in rest days.
Should You Walk Every Day?
Most people can walk at least a little every day. Whether you can do a walking workout every day depends on your experience, health and other factors like age and injury history. Most people can benefit from scheduling dedicated rest days, which allow your body to heal and recover. As we age, it takes longer to recover from exercise. Walking too much without proper rest can cause old injuries to flare up, like a bad knee or a sore lower back.
The CDC and other health organizations generally recommend at least 30 minutes of walking daily, 5 days a week. That’s a total of 150 minutes of exercise weekly. You can get even more benefits by increasing that to 300 minutes per day as well. This means that you should be walking most days, but you can also take a rest day or two and still hit that minimum recommended exercise.
Listen to your body to determine whether you should walk every day or schedule rest days. Here are some signs that you may need to schedule some rest days:
- You frequently feel too sore or tired to walk
- You find your regular walks harder or more tiring than usual
- Your step count, walk length or walking speed has started to drop
- A nagging injury just keeps feeling sore
How to Make Walking a Daily Habit
The best way to ensure that you walk on a daily basis is to incorporate walking into your daily routine. Creating a walking habit makes it easier to maintain your step count for the long run. You won’t need to find some motivation to walk, as you’ll be used to just doing it every day at the same time.
If the idea of creating a walking habit seems like a daunting task, there are some ways to work walking into your routine:
- Bring a friend: Finding an accountability partner is a great way to meet your daily walking goal. When you know someone is expecting you on a walk, you’ll be very motivated to show up on time and ready to go.
- Keep a log: Having a diary or a walking log that keeps track of all your walks is not only a great way to hold you responsible but will also help inspire you when you see how far you’ve come. You can use Pacer’s activity tracking, or you can write a paper log describing your walks and what you saw.
- Commit to taking the first step: On your walking days, commit to at least getting dressed and taking one step outside your door. If you really don’t feel it at that point, you can turn back – but you’re probably going to keep walking and finish your routine. If you find yourself frequently having to turn back, adjust your routine and look into taking more rest days.
- Stay consistent: Find a time of day that works best for you, and try to walk at that time every day if possible. This could be walking first thing in the morning, taking frequent walking breaks at work, or taking a walk after eating dinner in the evening. Staying consistent helps reinforce your walking habit.
- Set a goal: Setting a walking goal and checking your progress over time is important to ensure that you’re sticking to your walking habit. There are many ways to set walking goals – both step goals and walking time goals can help motivate you to keep walking. Once you’ve settled into your walking habit, don’t be afraid to update your goals. Increase them if they’re too easy, but remember that you can always decrease your goal (perhaps only temporarily) if your current goal is out of reach.
- Keep your habit fresh: While walking at the same time of day is helpful, switch things up occasionally to keep your walking routine fresh. A simple tweak is walking your normal route the other way around. You can try getting in some stairs, getting in your steps indoors at the local mall, or including some hills or incline sections.
How to keep walking every day
If you’re planning on walking every day, it’s important to reduce the impact on your body and prevent injuries, as well as keep your walks fresh and interesting. Here are some tips to keep walking on a regular basis.
- Perfect your posture: Try to walk with good posture during all of your walks. If you feel your posture is slipping, consider cutting your walk short. Walking with poor posture increases your chance of soreness and injury over time. Instead of only maximizing steps, work on increasing the time you can maintain good posture. Here’s a guide from Pacer on posture tips for walkers!
- Break it up: The Mayo Clinic recommends a fitness routine that highlights walking five days a week, for 30 minutes at a time. However, if this is too much to handle, it recommends breaking up your walking routine into shorter walks throughout the day. This can make that 30 minutes more manageable for newer walkers while making it easier to fit walking into a busy schedule.
- Maintain a brisk pace: If you want to experience the ultimate benefits of walking, make sure you keep up a brisk walking pace. A brisk pace means that you’ll be breathing a bit heavier than normal, but not so hard that you’re feeling out of breath. A brisk pace can be different for different people, so focus on how you feel when walking rather than trying to keep up with the average walking pace.
- Gear up: The great thing about walking is you don’t need much gear to get started. To get the most out of your walk, make sure to wear comfortable clothing and well-fitting shoes for walking. While you can walk in running shoes, if you’re walking every day try to look into a good pair of walking shoes. Your feet will thank you!
- Warm-up, cool down, and stretch: When you plan out a walking plan (or any kind of cardio workout), make sure to warm up, cool down and get your body moving before exerting yourself. Incorporating a warm-up, cool down, and stretch either before or after your walk is a great way to prevent injuries and make sure your muscles are ready for your daily walk. Make sure you warm up first no matter what – even before stretching!
A Note on Rest Days
One of the most important things you can do on a fitness or workout routine isto incorporate “rest days” into your routine. Rest days do not need to be an “all or nothing” situation. Making sure to include small amounts of movement in your day is critical for keeping your body healthy. Ensuring that you get proper rest (both every day and throughout the week) is also crucial for your body to heal, rebuild muscle and everything else your body needs to do to stay in tip-top shape.
Always listen to your body. If you start to feel tired or lethargic, take a rest day. Chances are you’ll feel even stronger after your rest and feel like you can get even more steps.
When you’re resting, you can work in some other activities that can benefit your health in the long run. Here are some ideas for rest day activities:
- Prepare healthy meals or snacks for the rest of the week
- Plan out your walks for the week so you’ll be ready to go
- Do some light stretching, yoga, or other low-impact activity
- Stand up every hour or so and take a leisurely, short walk to get your blood pumping
Getting in an amazing workout every day is as simple as placing one foot in front of the other. Not only will walking help you experience some incredible mental and physical benefits, but it’s one of the few exercises that can be accomplished almost anytime, anywhere and every day. Take some time for yourself every day and walk your way into fitness.
If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.
- Get walking with this 12-week walking schedule. (ND). By Mayo Clinic Staff. MayoClinic
- Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health. (ND). By Mayo Clinic Staff. MayoClinic
- Walking for good health. (ND). By Better Health Channel. Victoria State Government
- Why Rest Days are Just as Important as Working Out. (2015) By Katie Rosenbrock. The Active Times