The Best Walking Locations Based on Your Goals

By Erin Palinski-Wade

Depending on the reason you have decided to start walking, you may find certain locations are better suited to help you reach your goals. All walking locations offer benefits to your health and well‐being. But they all also have their negatives as well.

Walking on a high‐tech treadmill at the gym can allow for many variants in speed and incline; however, there’s a higher cost associated with becoming a gym member. Walking outside to reduce stress can be very relaxing; however, a cold winter or a bad weather day may make walking more difficult.

When it comes to finding the best spot for you to walk, you have to weigh the pros versus the cons. The most important factor when you locate the best walking spot for you is how realistic it is that you will walk there on a regular basis. If the location you pick is not convenient, you’ll most likely find reasons not to walk, especially on days when you are tired or busy.

So make it easy on yourself. Pick the location that’s the most convenient for you so you can stick to your routine and reach your goals.

Choosing the wrong location may result in difficulty reaching your goals. For instance, if you want to maximize your ability to shed pounds and inches, choosing a walking location that doesn’t allow you to change the intensity of your workout over time may stifle your progress.

Best location when walking for weight loss

When aiming to lose weight, you want to keep two things in mind: You want to move more throughout the day, and you want to challenge your muscles and your cardiovascular system. Increasing your daily movement during the day is easy. You can track your steps with a pedometer and fit in extra steps with every task you perform.

However, to challenge your muscles and maximize the amount of fat and calories you burn each day, you need to make sure you select a location conducive to this. This involves selecting a walking location that allows you to switch up your workouts. When walking for weight loss, you want to be able to increase your speed and intensity over time. Locations that allow for this include the following:

  • Locations with no obstacles that cause you to stop or interrupt your walk (crosswalks, traffic lights, and so on) so you can carry on at a constant speed

  • Locations that allow you to vary your terrain by increasing the incline, such as hilly roads or a treadmill with an incline function

  • Locations that allow you to incorporate resistance to your workout, such as pushing a stroller or carrying weights

Although the preceding criteria may seem to eliminate many locations, you can actually find locations that incorporate these characteristics almost anywhere. For instance, if you want to walk indoors and walk the interior of your local shopping mall, you can change up the terrain by walking up and down the stairs as part of your walking workout.

If you live in a busy city and it’s almost impossible to walk without hitting a large number of crosswalks and traffic lights, you can march in place while waiting to cross the road to keep up the intensity of your workout.

Best locations for fitness walking

If your goal for starting a walking routine is to improve your health, increase your endurance, and build strength, the following criteria are key when selecting your walking location:

  • To increase endurance, you need to walk for a set duration of time and increase the length of your walk, as well as your speed, over time. Walking on the sidewalk around town, walking on the treadmill, or even walking at the local track all allow you to increase your distance by either walking farther or repeating your walking route (as in walking on a track).

  • To build strength, you need to challenge your muscles while you walk. You can do this in a number of ways, including walking at an incline up a hill or on a treadmill, or walking with resistance, such as wearing weights while walking. Whether you walk uphill, upstairs, or on an incline on the treadmill (or even on a flat surface outside with resistance), you can meet this challenge almost anywhere.

Best locations for leisure and stress‐reducing walking

Perhaps you have taken up walking with the goal of clearing your head and relaxing more. Reducing stress can not only provide you with health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, but can also help you shed pounds and belly fat.

The key to walking for stress reduction is to select a location that doesn’t add to your stress. If you are rushing through rush‐hour traffic to get to the gym before coming home to your family, the act of walking may be compounding your stress rather than reducing it. Similarly, if walking at work leads to you having five extra piles of paperwork on your desk by the time you are done, the stress relief you feel while walking will surely come piling back on as soon as you’re done.

The key to walking off the stress is to pick a time and location for your walk that won’t add to your stress level:

  • Make sure you enjoy the location you walk in. A scenic park may help to alleviate more stress than walking along a busy street with constant horn‐beeping.

  • Select a time to walk that doesn’t compound your stress. If you have a busy job and walking on a lunch break leads to more work and stress, that’s not the right time for you to walk. Perhaps instead, you can get to work a few minutes early and walk before you start your day.

    If you plan to walk with your family but they tend to complain during the walk or want to go back home, that can make your walk less peaceful as well. In this situation, you may want to find a time when you can walk alone to have some peace and quiet as you walk away your stress.

  • The best choice for stress‐reducing walking is a quiet, calming environment. This may be at home, at the gym on a treadmill while you listen to your favorite music, outside as you take in the sights, or even through a shopping mall as you window shop and walk.

Just the act of walking can reduce stress; however, make sure where and how you walk don’t add to your daily stress levels.