Adapting Your Walking Routine Over a Lifetime

By Erin Palinski-Wade

Think about the ways you walk every day. Now think about the ways you walked as a child or as a young adult. Has the way in which you walk most days evolved as you’ve gotten older? No matter what your age, walking and being physically active daily provides your body with positive benefits. However, how you walk may transition over your lifetime.

As a child, you may have spent time walking with friends, walking while playing games, or even walking around your school building. As a young adult, you may have walked for fitness, gone for hikes, or walked around the mall while shopping.

If you became a parent, you may have walked while chasing after your little ones or while performing household chores such as grocery shopping and cooking. Once retired, you may have started walking leisurely for fitness or to enjoy the day. Perhaps you walk while gardening or with a sport such as golf.

How you walk can vary from day to day depending on your schedule, preferences, and location. Your physical limitations and ability to walk may also impact how often you walk and the type of walking you do.

For instance, someone suffering from arthritis of the knees isn’t likely to power walk uphill; however, that same person can take a leisurely walk on a flat surface. Someone with chronic back pain may not be able to walk for more than a few minutes at a time. However, that person may be able to take brief walks multiple times per day to increase her activity level.

Your reasons for walking may also impact the type of walking you do. If you’re focused on losing weight quickly, you may want to take longer, fast‐paced walks. If you’re walking to mostly reduce stress, you may find a stroll in the park is more your style. And even your style and duration of walking may vary from day to day based on your schedule and even your energy level.

Regardless of the type of walking you do, where you do it, or how intense you make it, the act of getting up and moving is all you need to gain the health and weight‐loss benefits of walking. If your body limits you from taking long walks, a few brief walks can be just as beneficial. If you have joint pain, taking a long, slow walk can help you to shed pounds just as well as a fast‐paced, short walk. All that matters is that you get up and get moving.