Is Walking the Right Exercise for You?

By Erin Palinski-Wade

Reading this, you are most likely considering walking as your primary source of exercise. If you’re still contemplating whether walking is the right exercise for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • When you think about any form of exercise you can do, what do you consider the most enjoyable?

  • What would be the easiest for you to fit into your daily routine?

  • What exercise would be the least taxing on your body and your joints?

  • What is an exercise you can do anywhere no matter whether you are at work, at home, or traveling?

If you think about all the many forms of exercise you can partake in, walking is one of the only ones that answers most, if not all, of these questions. Walking is easy. You already know how to do it. It can be done anywhere, anytime with no equipment needed. It’s cheap, it’s enjoyable, and you can do it alone or with others.

Maybe instead of asking yourself whether walking is the right exercise for you, you may want to ask who walking is not a great choice of exercise for.

If you’ve been hesitant to get started with walking, ask yourself what may be holding you back. Is it the idea of trying to schedule yet another thing into your busy day? If so, walking doesn’t need to be hard and you don’t even need to “make time” for it per se. Walking can be as simple as tracking and increasing your steps by using a tool such as a pedometer.

If you’ve been resistant to start a walking routine for fear of getting off track due to having failed at past attempts to exercise, don’t worry. Even if you were not successful with starting or sticking with an exercise routine in the past, it doesn’t mean you can’t be now.

One of the easiest ways to be successful with exercise is to make it a part of your daily routine and to make it as easy as possible. You can’t get much easier than doing something you already do anyway. As with any exercise plan, you want to ease your way into a walking routine. You don’t need to start walking for hours on end day after day (and that isn’t even needed to see results).

Assessing your exercise needs

When starting an exercise routine, you first want to assess your needs. What are you hoping to get out of your exercise plan? And more importantly, what does your exercise plan need to offer in order for you to stick with it? Walking can really be tailored to meet most of your exercise wants and needs.

Once you identify what you want to get out of your walking routine, you can identify the walking program that’s best suited for you and your goals.

As you begin to think about what your walking routine needs to offer, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need an exercise I can do anywhere?

  • Am I willing to use exercise equipment, or do I want to keep my workout as minimal as possible?

  • Do I need to be only outdoors or only indoors when I exercise, or can my routine be flexible?

  • Do I want my routine to help me tone and build muscle?

  • Do I want my routine to improve my flexibility?

  • Is my main desire for my routine to burn as many calories as possible in the shortest amount of time?

  • Do I want an intense workout or a more relaxing workout?

  • Is it important that my exercise routine incorporate a workout partner or buddy?

  • Does my workout need to be as effective as possible in a very small time frame?

  • Do I want to space my exercise out throughout the day or do it all at once?

  • What is the most important factor in my workout routine to ensure I will be consistent with it?

Answering these questions can help you determine why you want to walk and what results are the most important for you to see from walking. Your answers to these questions will also help you to identify what type of walking routine will be the most enjoyable for you and the most likely for you to stick with.

As with anything, consistency is key to achieving and maintaining results. For this reason, making sure you know just what type of walking routine you are most likely to be consistent with is key to your long‐term success.

Assessing your fitness level

Now that you know what you want your walking routine to offer you and the type of walking routine you will be most successful with, it’s time to analyze your current fitness level. If you have never exercised in the past, you may be feeling slightly hesitant about starting.

However, the beauty of walking is that it’s a form of exercise you already do each and every day. No need to learn any fancy exercise techniques or be in a room full of fitness buffs where you feel intimidated. You can start at your own pace anywhere you want.

If you’ve never exercised before and have a mostly sedentary lifestyle, ­consider yourself a beginner when it comes to starting a walking routine. You can advance as quickly as you like; however, setting your expectations too high too soon can lead to burnout, causing you to fail to stick with your exercise routine.

If you’re someone who doesn’t regularly exercise but you have a very active life, such as working a physically active job, you may be able to start with a more challenging walking routine as your level of strength and endurance is higher than someone who is mainly sedentary.

If you already exercise by walking or another form of exercise, you can also jump into a more challenging walking routine. But regardless of your current fitness level, remember that when it comes to starting a new workout, don’t try too much too soon.

Overexercising, especially in the beginning, can lead to injury, soreness, and a decreased likelihood of sticking to your workout routine. Start small and build up gradually, which is the best way to ensure you will be walking for years to come!

As you assess your current fitness level, it’s important to consider any health conditions you may have, any past or current injuries, or any limitations such as joint pain that may impact your walking routine. As you read through this book, you find out what forms of walking for fitness are best for all fitness levels, health conditions, and even joint and bone conditions.

However, even if you have no prior health concerns, you should always contact your physician before starting or changing any exercise routine.