The Benefits of Walking as Exercise

By Erin Palinski-Wade

In just a few minutes per day, without buying any exercise equipment or having to travel to a gym, or learn a skill that requires the coordination of a circus acrobat, you can burn calories, shed inches, boost metabolism, and fight disease — just by putting one foot in front of the other! So why not get started today?

When you look at starting an exercise routine, the number one question you should ask yourself is “Is this something I can stick with?” With walking, the answer is usually an easy “yes.”

Walking is a low‐impact exercise, so even if you suffer from joint pain or have a history of injury, it’s typically an exercise you can enjoy without risk of further injury or increased pain. Walking can also be as intense or as easy as you want.

For instance, if one day you just don’t feel like partaking in vigorous exercise, you can still boost your fitness level with a leisurely stroll around the park or the shopping mall. If you feel like an intense workout another day, you can power walk on an incline to really challenge your endurance.

As you can see, walking really offers something for everyone. It’s an exercise you can do at any age or any fitness level. You can walk alone, in a group, or with a friend. Walking can take place outside in your neighborhood or a local park, indoors in a shopping center or around your home, at the gym on a treadmill, or even when traveling and sightseeing.

Other than proper footwear, little equipment is required. With walking, there really are no excuses. Nothing is holding you back from fitting walking into your day. So are you ready to start moving?

You can walk anytime, almost anywhere

Although taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking the long way to the restroom at the office may not seem like exercise, it can all start to add up. That’s one of the main reasons that walking is such a great form of exercise — it can really become part of your daily routine. In fact, once you get in the habit of increasing your daily physical activity by upping your daily steps, you’ll be amazed at the results you can see from what feels like very little effort.

Unlike some forms of exercise where you have to schedule time, purchase equipment, or drive to the gym, walking can be done anywhere at any time. With walking, you move in a natural way that’s fun and relaxing, without having to worry about learning special techniques or operating special equipment.

And even if you’ve never exercised before, you know how to walk. The only thing that is holding you back from increasing the amount you walk each day so you can start to drop pounds and inches is you.

Walking is such a popular form of exercise because it doesn’t feel like “exercise” at all. In fact many experts now are starting to promote the idea of just getting more active to become fit than recommending you “work out.”

One of the biggest reasons for this is compliance and consistency. If you think of the word “exercise” as something you dread doing or as a chore, motivating yourself to get started can be hard. Or, once you have started, it can be hard to stick with it if you aren’t enjoying yourself.

On the other hand, if you can simply take more steps today than you did the day before, that’s easy! It doesn’t feel like a chore. In fact, it seems almost too simple not to do. And that’s what makes it so easy to stick with. Regardless of what you do to be more active, just being more physically active and staying that way will help you to lose weight, decrease belly fat, and improve your health and overall well‐being.

Almost anyone can do it

Even the most novice exerciser can take comfort in the fact that almost anyone can start a walking routine. The simplicity of walking is what makes it such a natural choice for exercise. It’s a great way to gain confidence because it’s beneficial to your health without being too challenging. And this is especially important if you are new to exercise or feel as though you’re out of shape and want to ease back into exercise gradually.

With walking, you can make your workout whatever you want. If you want to focus on easing into exercise gradually, you can focus on building the amount of steps you take each day to increase your daily activity level. If you want to really challenge yourself, you can power walk to increase your speed, strength, and endurance. You can even change your terrain, such as by walking uphill or hiking through the woods, to add an extra level to your workout.

One of the greatest things about walking is that it can be as easy or as challenging as you want it to be. And regardless of how you walk, the more you do it, the more benefits you’ll gain.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you don’t go to the gym or get out and run for hours on end that you won’t be able to shed pounds or get rid of stubborn belly fat. In fact, an hour at the gym may not even trump a day filled with many steps when it comes to weight loss.

A study from the University of South Carolina found that women who spent about three quarters of their day being physically active (such as cleaning, running errands, and gardening) burned 10 percent more calories throughout the day than women who spent one hour at the gym but were sedentary the majority of the day otherwise.

The research doesn’t lie — walking really adds up! So no matter your age, your fitness level, or whether you are a gym rat or have never exercised a day in your life, just get up and put one foot in front of the other and start walking. It really is as easy as that!