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Ten Tips For Healthy Walking

Updated on June 19, 2014

The benefits of walking

Summer is here, and for many of you, it means a time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Walking is one of the best ways you can do that, and as you will see, walking has many health benefits

Walking is a form of cardiovascular exercise. This means it exercises the heart and blood vessels, and in so doing prevents diseases of your heart, lungs and vascular system. Walking has other benefits:

  1. Weight loss – the reason most people embark on a walking program.
  2. Improved appearance – walking recruits all the major muscle groups of the body, toning them and giving you a more sculpted appearance.
  3. Improved mood – walking improves mood by releasing endorphins (the feel-good hormone). This can fight depression, stress and improve sleep.
  4. Improved health – in addition to preventing cardiovascular diseases, walking helps to lower blood sugar, prevent osteoporosis and even some cancers.


Doctor knows best

  1. Before you embark on any exercise program, pay a visit to your doctor. Especially if you haven’t seen him in a while, have a health condition and/or do a sedentary job. Your doctor can advise you on whether it is safe for you to begin walking and how much you can safely do.
  2. Stop or slow down if you feel pain, shortness of breath or dizziness. Call your doctor as soon as you can. These may be symptoms of an illness, and you do not want to exacerbate it.
  3. Do not go walking on an empty stomach or just after a heavy meal. Wait at least one hour after eating and be sure to drink lots of water or fruit drink.

To sum it up

1. See your doctor before you begin your walking program.

2. Begin slowly and gradually increase to a tolerable level. Try to walk 5 days a week.

3. Wear proper footwear and proper clothing for the weather.

4. Warm up before stretching

5. Choose the time of day that's best for you.

6. Do not walk with weights.

How much is too much

4. You do not have to walk one hour on your first day, and you shouldn’t try. Not even on your second day. Maybe not ever. You can achieve the same benefits by walking 10 minutes 3 times a day as if you walked one 30-minute bout. So, if your energy is not up to par and you can only do 10 minutes, then that is what you do until you can increase to 15, then 30.

5. After you have made walking a habit, try increasing your distance or, if you wear a pedometer, the number of steps. You should work up to 5 days a week. Walking your dog daily, or your baby in the stroller, is a good way to keep up your routine. Also, having a partner can be very motivating.

6. When it comes to burning calories, distance trumps speed. In other words, you burn the same number of calories whether you walk or run a mile. A 150-pound man will burn 100 calories whether he walks or runs a mile; if he runs more than a mile, then, of course, he will burn more.

Garden district in New Orleans. Lovely place for walking.
Garden district in New Orleans. Lovely place for walking. | Source

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Have the right equipment

7. Some walkers wear a pedometer to measure the amount of steps they have taken. A pedometer is a device worn on the hip or around the wrist. You may even put it in your pocket or purse. There are different types of pedometers:

a. Spring-level pedometer - the oldest type. It's worn on the hip, but it's not recommended if your waist is large, or if you walk slowly, as the reading may not be accurate.

b. An accelerator pedometer senses movement and can be carried in your pocket or purse.

c. Pedometer wristband - measures steps, distance, calories burned and even your heart rate.

The good thing about a pedometer is that it motivates you to take more steps, and taking more steps burns more calories.

8. Wear proper footwear. There are as many types of walking shoes on the market these days as there are types of feet. Your first choice might be the one that looks cool or fashionable, but the best choice is the shoe that fits you best. One that is not too tight or too big and flexible enough so your foot can flex comfortably from heel to toe. You don't want bruised toenails or blisters.

And remember, you may become attached to those old shoes, but they have a usable lifespan. Experts say six months is the longest you should keep your walking shoes, if you are walking 30 minutes a day, or an average of 3 to 4 hours a week. Or better still, have two pairs of shoes and rotate them

Wristband pedometers
Wristband pedometers

Walk smart

9. Choose the time of day that is best for you. If you enjoy walking in the midday sun, then make sure you dress in light cotton clothing and drink lots of fluid. Most people, like myself, prefer to walk early in the morning. I find it increases my energy and lifts my mood for the day. Some of you may prefer late afternoon or evening and that is fine. I tend to have difficulty falling asleep if I exercise too late. Also, if you walk late evening or at nights, please wear light-colored clothing. I see too many people crossing the street after dark in clothing that makes them barely visible.One of the benefits of walking is that you get to go out into the fresh air, but do be careful where you walk.You may be a nature lover, but avoid lonely areas, especially in the late evening or night.

10. Dress properly for the weather. Light clothing when it’s hot, warm clothing when it’s cold. Some people wear plastic jackets to make them sweat, but they can also leave you dehydrated. For hot weather, choose polypropylene fabrics that wick the sweat away from your body and allow your skin to breathe. For cold weather, dress in layers that you can remove. And rain doesn’t have to stop you. Walk to an exercise video in your living room if it's storming outside.

Nike walking shoes
Nike walking shoes

Some closing thoughts

I see a lot of walkers stretching at the beginning of their walk. You should never stretch cold muscles. This can result in you pulling and tearing those muscles. The best way is to warm up first by walking at a slow pace for 5 – 10 minutes before stretching. Then remember to stretch after your walk.

Another mistake some people make is walking with weights, thinking they will help to tone their muscles. Experts advise against this. The reason is that weights can increase your blood pressure, strain ligaments and tendons and cause joint problems. Use the weights when you are not walking.

Walking can become boring after a while, especially if you take the same route every day. To add enjoyment to your walk, you can listen to music on your ipod or smartphone. If you enjoy reading, you can download a book and listen to it while walking.

Walking is one of the best things you can do for your body. By following the tips above you can be on your way to improving your looks, health and your life. Try it!


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    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Thanks, savvydating! If you love walking and drinking water, you're already doing some things right. Just be careful with the stretching and you'll be fine.

    • savvydating profile image

      Yves 3 years ago

      I honestly love this article---because walking is my favorite form of exercise. However, I was confused about when to stretch, so I am very glad that you clarified this. Also, the reminder to buy shoes that fit well and to get new shoes sooner rather than later is also valuable information. I would only add that it is important to pay attention to proper arch support.

      I imagine there are plenty of people who fail to keep themselves hydrated too, though that is one area where I've never had a problem. I love water! Voting Up & useful. Great tips here, quildon.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Thank you, Inspired Heart, once we stop it's hard to get started again, but go slowly.

    • Inspired Heart profile image

      Yvette Stupart 3 years ago from Jamaica

      These are great tips for starting to walk, thank you. I need to start walking again, I started and stopped. I like your suggestion to get the right equipment to walk including proper footwear.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Thanks, Ms. Dora. Sometimes the mind is willing but the body is weak, as my mother used to say.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you for your helpful instructions and the motivation to do something we know we should do--but don't always. Thanks also for including the Denis Austin tape.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for your comment, Arun. I'm off to check out your hub.

    • ARUN KANTI profile image

      ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE 3 years ago from KOLKATA

      An excellent hub for the regular walkers to know deficiencies, if any and those who are not inclined to step out. I am very much fond of going out on foot and enjoy a practice I have learnt from my Sona uncle who could live a long life happily being fit without any physical problems since he used to walk regularly.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Thanks, rebecca! No need to hurry.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Good tips, poor me, I just tend to get up and go in a hurry when I walk. This is a wonderful hub. Shared!

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Good for you, Jo! There's nothing like a brisk walk to get our blood pumping and help us feel good. Thanks for stopping by.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Great hub! I've just returned from my Sunday walk and feeling sooo much better for it. :)

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Good for you, KoffeeKlatch! When people think they have to huff and puff when they exercise, it keeps them from doing anything. But you can start slowly and increase it as your body gets stronger. All the best.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 3 years ago from Sunny Florida

      You have included wonderful tips and advice. I need to start walking as a regular routine for health reasons. I'll be taking my husband along to keep me from getting bored. I glad you mentioned starting out slowly. Too many people think you have to start walking a long distance in the beginning.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Hi Gaarf, most people think they are doing the right thing by stretching first, but they can injure themselves by doing that. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Gaarf Rosewell profile image

      Gaarf Rosewell 3 years ago

      I especially like your tip about warming up first, then stretching. Sorry to say I've been guilty of stretching those cold muscles. Thanks!:)