Is Walking in Place Good Exercise?

Woman in bathrobe walking through living room

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Physical activity not only promotes physical health, but it can boost mental health too. Yet, if you're busy, it's not always easy to find the time to work out. Or maybe you're just not big on going to the gym. In cases such as these, walking in place can help you stay active and healthy.

What Is Walking in Place?

As the phrase suggests, walking in place involves lifting the knees in a walking motion, yet remaining in one spot. The nice thing about this exercise is that you can walk in place anywhere—at a standing desk at work, while waiting in line at the store, on the sidelines of your child's soccer game, and so on.

This is just slightly different than house walking, which involves walking around your house. Both are forms of indoor walking. Yet, with house walking, you're moving from one location to another. When walking in place, you remain in the same spot.

If you walk at home, you may use walking in place as a way to stay active while watching TV. You can also walk in place while standing in front of the stove and waiting for dinner to be ready.

You can even walk in place outdoors. If you have to let your dog out, walk in place while waiting to let your pet back in. If your kids are playing outside, you can walk in place while making sure they are safe and having fun.

Benefits of Walking in Place 

One of the advantages of walking in place is that you don’t need nice weather to get physically active. While you can walk in place outdoors, you can just as easily do it indoors too. It is a physical activity you can do year-round.

You also don't need to purchase a gym membership. Nor do you need to buy any equipment for a home gym. It's a no-cost way to get and stay in shape. And you don't have to drive anywhere to do it.

Not to mention, it's a great feeling to look at your pedometer after walking in place and see how many steps you’ve racked up. Just think about all the extra calories you’re burning, without even really trying. That makes it a great tool for weight loss and maintenance.

The best part of this walking exercise is that you can do it no matter what your fitness level. If you're new to working out, just bring your knees up a little when walking in place. If you're more advanced, do more of a march instead of a walk. 

If you want to walk in place, yet feel like you're someplace else, virtual reality is an option to consider. Some manufacturers have created virtual reality equipment that helps keep you in place so you don't accidentally wander around the room and hurt yourself.

How to Walk in Place

If you're ready to start walking in place, use these tips to help you get started.

  1. Put on your walking shoes. While going without shoes may be okay when walking in place for only a few minutes, if you plan to walk for longer, put on a pair of walking shoes. This ensures that your feet have the support they need.
  2. Just start walking. It really is as simple as it sounds. The next time you find yourself sitting, get up, and start walking in place. Either walk for the sake of walking or multitask. Waiting for the oven timer to go off? Folding laundry? On the phone? Watching TV? Add walking in place to any of these!
  3. Track your steps. Motivation is key. Whether you go with a Fitbit or more inexpensive pedometer, or use the health app on your iPhone or Apple Watch, seeing how many steps you can rack up will motivate you to walk in place whenever possible.
  4. Set a step goal. Try to reach a certain number of steps each day. If 10,000 steps is too intimidating, start with 7,500 or even 5,000. Once you've hit your step goal several days in a row, step it up!
  5. Use a heart rate monitor. If you're wondering whether walking in place is raising your heart rate enough to boost your cardiovascular health, wearing a monitor can help. A heart rate monitor can help ensure that you're in your target heart rate zone. If you need to kick it up a notch, swing your arms more or lift your knees higher.
  6. Do intervals. Does the idea of walking in place sound a bit too monotonous? Instead of walking at the same pace the entire time, pick up the speed for a minute or two and then drop it back down. Continue alternating between faster and slower paces and you now have an interval training workout.
  7. Add strength training moves. Turn your walking exercise into a total body workout by incorporating muscle-building movements. Bodyweight exercises work well for this purpose. Walk in place for a few minutes, then do a few push-ups. Walk in place a few more minutes then do a couple of crunches. By the time you're done, you will have worked every muscle group in the body!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does walking around your house count as exercise?

Any movement you do can help you become more physically active. When answering this question, you need to ask yourself: What is my goal?

If you simply want to move around more, then yes: Walking around your house is exercise. If your goal is to improve your health, moderate-intensity exercise is recommended. You may need to boost the intensity of your walking to hit this goal.

Can walking in place help you lose weight?

Yes. You can lose weight by walking in place, especially if you were sedentary before, as any type of movement can increase the number of calories you burn. Pair regular walking in place with a healthy, balanced diet and you have the recipe for weight loss success.

How many calories can you burn walking in place for 30 minutes?

One study found that stepping in place burns roughly 258 calories per hour, which equates to 129 calories for 30 minutes. This research further noted that if you only walk in place during commercials, by the end of a one-hour television show, you will have burned around 148 calories.

A Word From Verywell

Although our schedules may be busy, there are still ways we can keep ourselves more active and move toward a healthier lifestyle. Walking in place is one option that can help you do both.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Benefits of physical activity.

  2. Swift DL, Johannsen NM, Lavie CJ, Earnest CP, Church TS. The role of exercise and physical activity in weight loss and maintenance. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2014;56(4):441-447. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2013.09.012

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity: Adults.

  4. Steeves J, Thompson D, Bassett D. Energy cost of stepping in place while watching television commercials. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012;44(2):330-5. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e31822d797e

By Lisa Lillien
Lisa Lillien is a New York Times bestselling author and the creator of Hungry Girl, where she shares healthy recipes and realistic tips and tricks.