By Erin Palinski-Wade

Walking indoors can provide all the same benefits as an outdoor workout. And it has advantages over an outdoor workout as well. When walking indoors, the following apply:

  • You don’t need to be concerned about whether the weather outside is too hot or cold.

  • You don’t need to worry about external factors such as avoiding traffic, bugs, or sun exposure, or encountering wild animals.

  • You can wear your favorite workout outfit without worrying about dressing in layers, covering yourself in sunblock, or whether the color of your outfit will absorb more heat.

  • An indoor walking workout typically has fewer variables, meaning you can be more consistent with your workout duration and intensity.

If an indoor walking workout seems like the type of workout you would enjoy, you just need to determine how you will go about walking indoors so you can best achieve your walking goals. When walking indoors, finding ways to mix up your workout can be a bit more challenging.

For instance, varying the intensity of your workout indoors can be a little more difficult as opposed to outdoors, where the landscape can work in your favor, but it can be done. With a little creativity, your walking workout can be just as great as, if not better than, an outdoor walking workout.

How and where to walk indoors

It may seem like there are more locations to walk outdoors than indoors, but really, you can pretty much walk anywhere anytime. An indoor location is an opportunity to walk. You can walk around the grocery store, an indoor flea market, an indoor track, and the list goes on and on. Where and how you choose to walk are entirely up to you.

When you choose to walk inside, you do want to consider your walking goals. If you plan to walk to shed pounds by focusing on just increasing your daily movement and tracking your steps each day, you can walk almost anywhere.

If you want to speed your results and burn the most fat and calories during your walking workout, you want to have the ability to alter the intensity of your workout by changing your speed, your incline, or resistance. Walking to maximize weight loss and fat loss can require a bit of equipment or creativity when done inside.

Changing your incline indoors

To help increase the intensity of your walking workout, adding an incline can help you challenge your muscles and burn more fat and calories. Outdoors, this is as easy as walking up a hill, but indoors it can require a bit more creativity. If you walk on a treadmill at your home or a gym that allows you to adjust the incline level, that’s all you need to add intensity to your workout.

However, if you’re walking around your home, a mall, or an office, adding an incline can be a bit more challenging. Using stairs to add an incline to your workout is your best bet. If you are mall walking, after every lap around the mall you can go up the stairs to the next mall level and repeat.

You can do the same thing in your home or office by walking a set number of flights of stairs every few minutes during your walking routine. If you don’t have access to stairs or are walking in place (such as walking in front of the TV), you can simply march in place, raising your knees higher than you would on a regular walking step, for a set duration of time to pick up the intensity and replicate walking on an incline.

Changing your resistance indoors

You can add resistance to your walking workout by adding light ankle or hand weights. Whether you walk in your home or in a public area like a mall, you can bring your weights with you to use during your walk.

Some people find that performing more resistance exercises while walking — such as doing shoulder presses with light weights while walking or adding lunges to a walk — is easier to do at home than outdoors where they’re concerned with uneven terrain or even the idea of others looking at them while they’re exercising.

Changing your speed indoors

If you have access to a treadmill, adjusting your speed can be quick and easy. If you’re walking in a limited space, adjusting your speed can pose more of a challenge. For instance, if you walk around your living room, do you have space to power walk? Probably not.

However, you can still push yourself to cover more steps in a shorter amount of time to increase your speed. You can also look for opportunities in larger spaces, such as shopping centers, to walk quickly in straight open areas and then slow down in more crowded spaces to add interval training to your workout.

Indoor walking considerations

When it comes to walking indoors, consider the following factors to make sure you can safely and effectively complete the walking workout you want to achieve your desired goals:

  • Space: When walking indoors, you must take space into consideration. Unlike walking outdoors where you have access to as much open space as you could possibly desire, indoor walking can be a bit more limiting. When walking indoors, you take into account that you’ll most likely need to repeat your desired route over and over.

  • Equipment: You can use as little or as much equipment as you like when walking inside. If increasing speed, distance, and intensity are part of your walking goals, finding a way to access a treadmill either by purchasing one or going to a gym that has one can be a great asset to your workout.

    A treadmill allows you to easily adjust your speed and incline level over and over again without having to find access to stairs or ramps, or having to march in place. A pedometer is also a fantastic piece of equipment to consider using when walking indoors. It allows you to track your overall steps so you can see just how much and how far you have walked every day.

  • Accessibility: When choosing to walk indoors, make sure you have access to where you want to walk on a regular basis. If you walk in your home, accessibility is easy to come by. However, if you walk at a shopping center, you need to be able to drive to the shopping center and can only walk when it is open. If you walk inside your office building, you need to find alternatives on days you’re not working, such as weekends, if your building isn’t open.

  • Safety: Although walking outdoors can increase the need to take safety precautions such as battling changing weather conditions or uneven terrain, walking indoors can have safety risks as well. If you choose to walk on a treadmill, make sure you know how to operate the emergency shutoff switch if you need to stop walking at once.

    If you plan to walk up and down stairs, make sure you have access to a handrail in case you lose your balance. And just as when walking outdoors, if you plan to walk inside a public location, such as a shopping center, make sure you let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back in case of any emergencies.