Walking Basics and Health Benefits

We all think we know what walking is and how to walk. But walking is more, it is a great way to decrease your health risks and improve your fitness. Beyond the basics of how to walk and how much to walk, there are variations in walking faster, training for long distance walking events, nordic walking with fitness walking poles, and using a treadmill or a pedometer.

Women Walking with Water Bottles in Hand
© Terry Vine / Brand X Pictures / Getty

We all think we know how to walk. But you may be walking wrong. Are you overstriding? Not rolling through a step from heel to toe? Doing nothing with your arms or flapping them like a chicken? You'll walk better if you avoid these walking mistakes.


Walking in Autumn Leaves in Fall
Walking in Autumn Leaves. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Learn to use the right walking posture, the right foot motion, the correct stride, and proper arm motion. Then learn to increase your walking time while working on good walking form. This tutorial takes you through all of the basics of walking right.

  • How to Walk: Step by step on how to start walking with the proper walking form.


Weight Loss Success
Weight Loss Success. © James G Brey / Photodisc

Walking is one of the easiest way to add exercise to your day and to burn fat. The recommended amount of walking for weight loss is 60 minutes a day most days of the week, combined with a reduced calorie diet. Walking burns about 100 calories per mile for a 160 pound person.


© Jim Cummins / The Image Bank / Getty

The minimum daily requirement for walking is 30-60 minutes a day. If you could package that as a pill, it would be hailed as a medical miracle, as it reduces your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, hypertension, and other major diseases. Walking improves blood sugar control and blood pressure control.


Treadmill Walking and Running
Treadmill Walking and Running. Spencer Platt / Getty Images News

Treadmills are the easiest exercise machine to use, but are you getting the most out of your treadmill workout? Have you learned to walk without holding onto the handrails? Are you using good walking posture so you are opening up your chest and reducing low back strain?


10000 Steps on a Pedometer
10000 Steps. Mark Harmel / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

A pedometer is a great way to motivate you to add more activity to your day. Many people aim to add 2000 more steps per day until they are able to achieve a goal of 10,000 steps per day. Find out about how to choose the most accurate pedometer, how to set it, and how to use it to motivate yourself.


Racewalkers at the Olympic Games
Racewalkers at the Olympic Games. Getty Images Sports / Jeff J. Mitchell

Walking faster gives you a more intense cardio workout and lets you cover more distance in the same amount of time (and therefore burn more calories per minute). You can use our tips to walk faster using a regular walking stride, or learn Olympic-style racewalking to achieve top speeds.

  • How to Walk Faster: Walk faster using proper walking posture, arm motion, and a powerful stride.
  • How to Racewalk: Racewalking is a specific walking style in which the knee is kept straight from the front of the step until it passes under the body. One foot is on the ground at all times. Find out the basics of racewalking techniques from our expert Judy Heller of Erofit.


Walking the Marathon or Half Marathon

Vancouver USA Marathon Starting Line
Vancouver USA Marathon Starting Line. Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

Do you want to walk the 13.1 mile half marathon or the 26.2 mile marathon? You will need to train for these long distance events. You will need to set aside one day each week for a walk of increasing distance to build up your walking time, plus walk regularly during the rest of the week. You will need to test your shoes, socks, blister prevention, race snacks, hydration, and clothing. I have a full tutorial on training for and participating in these long distance events.

Nordic Walking Couple on Sidewalk
Nordic Walking Couple. Scott Markewitz/Getty Images

Nordic walking uses fitness walking poles to turn walking into a full body workout. Nordic walking burns more calories per mile while you feel the same level of exertion. It helps improve posture and open up your shoulders and chest. Find out how to enjoy Nordic walking.


Brooks Ghost 6
Brooks Ghost 6. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

No matter what kind of walking you are doing, finding the best walking shoes is essential to walking comfortably. Find out how to choose the best walking shoes for your walking style, stride, and feet.


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