Walking is one of the easiest ways to improve or maintain your overall health. And it’s so simple that everyone can do it. Besides, it’s free, easy to fit even in your daily routine, and there are indeed so many benefits of walking.
However, you will need a good pair of walking shoes that is comfortable, breathable, and with enough cushioning.
So, what are the advantages of walking? Read on to learn more about the physical, health, and emotional benefits of taking walks.
But before that, let’s check out the crucial walking tips before you leave the house.
The Benefits of Walking and 6 Tips to Keep in Mind
Walking demands little in the way of equipment. More so, it can be done almost anywhere and is less likely to stress the joints in the way that running can.
However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind if you’re planning to take walks regularly. These include:
1. Get the right shoes
One of the critical things you need is a good pair of shoes. However, not every shoe you find on the market will be suitable for this kind of exercise.
Generally, the right shoes for walking should have flexible soles and stiff heel counters to eliminate side-to-side motion. And if walking on normal flat surfaces, you should get shoes with low heels. The shoes also need to be lightweight, cushioned, and comfortable.
2. Know your route
You must know where exactly you will be walking on any given day. This way, you will feel confident and comfortable.
This also helps ensure you don’t waste so much time trying to figure out the route. So, always devise a handful of route options that vary in terrain, length, and grade to minimize boredom.
3. Have a great walking playlist
Before you even leave the house, devise a good playlist. A great soundtrack will motivate you to push harder and even go farther.
Additionally, it’s advisable to get songs that are at least between 170 to 190 BPM. Apparently, these high tempos have been proven to boost workout performance. You can also pick a podcast or listen to an audiobook.
4. Grab a pre-workout snack
If walking for more than 60 minutes, you should grab a snack at least an hour before. You see, skipping a pre-workout meal can run you the risk of muscle breakdown and low blood sugar.
5. Invest in a fitness tracker
A good fitness tracker can help you keep tabs on your strides for accountability. It also helps track your overall health and fitness.
Some tracking devices will even monitor your heart rate. So, take your time to choose the best fitness tracker that meets your unique needs.
6. Get a walking buddy
Different studies show that having a strong support group is essential to achieving and even maintaining weight loss success. Besides, friendly competition can help you stay motivated.
Therefore, we recommend finding a walking buddy or joining a walking group to help you stay active.
Benefits of Walking 30 Minutes a Day
You don’t need to go to the gym to get fit. 30 minutes of walking a day is a great way to get you on the road to good health. The best part is that you can walk as briskly as you can.
That said, now let’s take a look at the advantages of walking at least 30 minutes a day.
Minimizes your risk of chronic diseases
Walking just 3,000 steps a day, the equivalent of 30-minutes could be enough to reduce your risk of chronic disease.
According to research, walking for 30 minutes five days a week can lower your risk of type II diabetes. Also, daily walking can minimize blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Walking also comes in handy when it comes to losing weight. If you walk for at least 30 minutes a day, your pants will begin to fit more loosely around the midsection. And according to a study, walking can boost your body’s response to insulin. Consequently, this helps reduce belly fat.
However, the number of calories you lose may vary based on several factors like terrain, walking speed, and weight.
Eases joint pain
Besides helping you lose weight, taking up a 30-minute walk can improve joint, hip, and knee pain. This is because walking enhances joint lubrication while also strengthening the muscles that support them.
Additionally, walking may provide benefits for people with arthritis, including reducing pain. It can even delay the onset of conditions like varicose veins by strengthening and preserving leg muscles.
Improves your mood
Do you always find yourself grabbing a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of wine just to boost your mood? If yes, you will be surprised to know that walking offers the same benefits but without the added calories.
Different studies show that walking for just 30 minutes can help reduce depression and anxiety. It can also reduce any symptoms of social withdrawal and enhance your self-esteem. Apparently, it does this by modifying your nervous system, so you experience a reduction in anger.
Increases your creativity
When you feel stuck at work or need clarity on a situation, walking can help you think creatively. Studies show that going for a walk can spark creativity.
Simply put, walking helps open up a free flow of new ideas. Not to mention, it’s also a simple way to stay fit at the same time. So, the next time you’re stuck on a problem at work, you could try to initiate a walking meeting.
Benefits of Walking 20 Minutes a Day
Did you know that you don’t have to run marathons just to make a difference in your health? Yeah, you heard that right! A brisk 20-minute walk each day could improve your overall health. Below are some of the key benefits to walking just 20-minutes a day.
Lowered risk of heart disease
Some people believe that you have to get on the treadmill for at least an hour to improve your heart health. But according to research, walking for 20-minutes a day can minimize the risk of heart attack and stroke by 8%.
Other studies have shown that brisk walking may minimize three key risk factors in the development of heart disease. These include cholesterol, diabetes, and blood pressure.
Keeps your memory sharp
Regular walking may help expand the part of the brain (hippocampus) that is responsible for memory. It is believed that the hippocampus starts to shrink as we age, usually between age 55 and 60.
Studies also show that walking three times a week for at least 20 minutes can reverse age-related memory loss. Also, it may help boost levels of a protein in the brain that is key to learning.
Along with a healthy diet, 20-minute walks have been shown to increase the number of calories your burn per day. Additionally, it may help reduce visceral fat, also referred to as belly fat, which is dangerous to your health.
Generally, depending on your weight, you can burn up to 100 calories by just taking a 20-minute brisk walk. Just make sure to wear a fitness tracking device so you can track your progress and stay motivated.
Exercises such as walking for only 20 minutes boost the effect of natural sleep hormones like melatonin. Consequently, this helps you doze off faster and sleep more soundly.
What’s more? Walking has been shown to reduce stress and improve your physical well-being, both of which could be keys to sleeping better. It also helps boost your mood, thereby improving sleep.
Long Distance Walking Benefits
Long-distance walking is an addictive hobby for many, and especially those who find vigorous activities a challenge. However, there are many benefits of long-distance walking that draw many people to this form of exercise. These include:
Better stamina and fitness
Walking for long distances has been shown to improve your physical strength and stamina. And with better stamina, it means you can burn calories more efficiently.
Generally, as an experienced walker, you can burn up to 100 calories per mile with long-distance walking. Consequently, this helps increase your metabolism while also ensuring you stay fit.
Helps you live longer
It’s proven that walking at a brisk pace for at least 30 minutes a day can lower your risk of developing heart diseases. Better still, it reduces dementia on older age, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Therefore, this activity will not just benefit your short-term health but also your overall health. However, you need to keep the habit of walking for a long time.
Improves energy levels
When you are dead tired, the last thing on your mind would be to go for a walk. But what if we told you that this activity may boost your energy levels compared to grabbing a cup of coffee?
Yeah, you heard that right! Long-distance walking is proven to increase your oxygen flow through your body. It also helps boost your levels of epinephrine and cortisol hormones, thereby elevating your energy levels.
Reduces stress and improves mood
Another benefit of engaging in long-distance walks is that the activity can greatly improve your overall mental wellbeing.
This type of activity releases hormones like endorphins, which trigger positive thoughts and feelings. As a result, this helps improve your mood and reduce your anxiety levels. So, the next time you feel anxious or not motivated, simply go for a walk, and you will feel better.
Tone your legs
If you wish to strengthen your leg muscles, long-distance walking is your best option. You will be surprised to get lean and sculpted legs in record time.
However, if you want to build up more strength, we recommend walking in a hilly area or uneven terrain. You can also find routes with stairs.
10 Long Distance Walking Tips for Beginners
You can’t just wake up one day and decide to go for a long-distance walk. Training is critical for both comfort and success. So, whether you want to get fit or would like to participate in a charity walk, here are tips to help you.
- Walk slowly at an increasing distance and pace to avoid losing interest.
- You should walk at least 15 miles per week for 4 to 5 days a week to build stamina and endurance.
- Stretch and move your muscles along the way. For instance, you can hug each knee to your chest just to stretch your behind while in a standing position.
- Eat enough since it’s not the time to worry about taking too many calories. Also, make sure to eat plenty at resupply points to restore your body.
- Hydrate at least every 10 minutes during the walk. Just don’t let yourself get thirsty, as it could be too late.
- Factor in rest days since you are not out to break a record.
- Don’t have a pedicure before going for a long-distance walk. You should also clip your toenails short.
- Invest in good quality and properly fitting footwear. This way, you won’t have to worry about getting blisters or sore feet.
- Break the walk into several sections in your mind to keep you motivated. You see, the length of the walk can seem challenging if you view it as a whole.
- Keep walking even when you feel like giving up. This includes even when you have sore feet, headache, or the weather is not good.
Different Ways of Walking
As you already know, walking offers many benefits, including weight loss, stress reduction, and improved mood. But did you know that there are different ways of walking, ranging from a casual stroll, brisk walk, and amble? Here is a look at some of the most common ones.
This is probably the easiest form of walking. You walk as you would normally walk but slightly faster. Brisk walking is usually in the range of 100 steps per minute or a pace of 3.5 miles per hour. Therefore, it is best suited for beginners.
Race walking is the Olympic Sport that you see on the TV. It is extremely tough and requires high levels of endurance and fitness levels. And to avoid disqualification, one foot must stay in contact with the ground at all times.
This form of walking is what we usually do such as when we go to the mall to shop. Also, it can be when you move around the house from one room to another. Simply put, it is the type of walk that has no real purpose and is not noticeable.
If you’re used to brisk walking and would like a more vigorous type of walking, power walking is all you need. This is because it involves a faster pace and uses rigorous arm swings. However, the key to power walking is perfectly swinging your arm at 90-degrees.
This is similar to running a marathon, except that you walk it. The marathon distance is usually 26.2 miles or 42.195 km. However, you need to train for months before the race day to build endurance and base mileage.
This is a bit more than an amble but slightly quicker and longer. It is the kind of walk you take after giving birth while pushing a stroller with the baby in it. Ideally, you should push the stroller with one hand and swing the other to ease the neck and back muscles.
Also referred to as pole walking, Nordic walking is similar to brisk or power walking. The only difference is that it incorporates the use of poles to help you achieve a faster pace. As such, it is best suited for anyone looking for a full body and core workout or elderly walkers.
Chi is a Chinese word that means life force. As such, this form of walking uses the principles of the Chinese art of Tai Chi. Generally, Chi walking is commonly used to strengthen core muscles, improve posture, gain cardiovascular fitness, and relax tight muscles.
How Much Walking is too Much?
Exercises like walking are said to foster better health and wellbeing, thereby increasing your life expectancy. However, too much of a good thing may be harmful to your overall health.
This means that it is possible to overdo walking just like with any form of exercise. Unfortunately, there is no one formula or even number to tell you how much walking is too much.
The good news is that the body will tell you if you’re walking too much with some signs. So, below are the signs to watch out for to understand if you’re overdoing it with your walking routine.
Foot pain/Soreness/Joint pain
If you notice persistent sore, heavy, and stiff muscles, it could be a sign that you are walking too much. Generally, it’s normal to get sore feet and experience joint pain from walking. However, the soreness should go away if you give your feet enough time to rest.
So, if the pain persists or lasts for several days, it could mean that you have been walking too much. When this happens, taking a rest for a couple of days is always a good idea.
When you don’t get enough rest between your walks, you’re likely to have a difficult time maintaining a good posture. So, if you find yourself staggering with your arms swinging in front of you, it may mean you’re overexercising.
Poor posture may be an indication that your body is fatigued and requires a break to recover. This is because if you don’t get some rest, you may risk injury.
Longer recovery time
Lastly, if you notice that you are taking longer to feel normal again after the walk, you may be walking too much. In this case, it would be a good idea to dial down the intensity for a little bit.
For instance, you can try walking for shorter periods or simply take a few days off. This way, you can observe if the recovery time improves or not.
Why Do Men Walk on the Outside?
According to ancient traditions, a real gentleman should walk on the outside of a curbside or the street. In earlier times, keeping the woman on the inside ensured that a chamber pot would not be emptied on her head.
More importantly, it kept her away from the traffic. It also ensured that any effluent in the open sewers would be splashed onto her dress by a passing carriage.
While sewage is not an issue today, a man walking on the outside helps protect a woman from water puddles. These could be puddles splashing up from buses or if a car veers onto the sidewalk.
Additionally, a man walking on the street side of his woman might mean he will always be by her side. It could also symbolically mean he is willing to do everything to protect her from anything.
How Long Does it Take to Walk 4 Miles?
Thinking about walking for 4 miles and would like to know how long it will take you to complete? Well, the answer depends on several factors such as:
*How fast you walk
*Rests you may need
*Obstacles you may encounter
*Age and gender
For instance, it would take a 20–25-year-old only 20 minutes to walk a mile at a speed of 3mph. However, a 75-year-old may take nearly half an hour to walk a mile at speeds of 2.1mph.
Additionally, if walking at a fast pace, it will take you 11 minutes to walk a mile. But you will need to cover 100 to 119 steps per minute. On the other hand, it may take you 20 minutes per mile if walking at a relaxed pace.
But how long will it take you to walk 4 miles based on your pace? At a fast pace, it will take you 44 minutes and one hour at a normal pace. However, at a relaxed pace, you may take an hour and 20 minutes.
Fitness can be expensive. Not only will you need home exercise equipment and gym membership, but also shoes plus workout clothes. However, the benefits of walking are boundless. You only need to invest in shoes!
Just a 20 or 30-minute walk at least 3 days a week is enough to extend your lifespan.
Hi! Mahmudul Kabir here, ShoesInsider’s chief editor with a bucket of experience on the footwear industry. In essence, he mostly writes about all footwear goods. Mahmud has years of expertise in the footwear industry and is a Chief Editor. Along with our in-depth analyses, his thorough knowledge of the footwear sector and consumer insights are reflected in several opinion pieces on the athletic footwear market.