Walking has been called the "simplest wonder drug," and it's one of the easiest ways to lose weight and get in shape. Find out more inside.
February 2023. This article is independently written by Shelby Golding. All opinions given are hers. Shelby has been certified as a personal trainer and nutritional specialist since 2007. In 2008, she found her passion for writing about these topics and hasn't looked back.
If you're looking to lose weight, you might assume you need to hit the gym for hours every week. But we have good news for you – you can skip the weights and HIIT workouts in favor of walking and reap many of the same benefits.
Walking is a simple, low-impact activity that most of us do almost every day. And you might be surprised to know that it's one of the easiest ways to get in shape. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of walking for weight loss (and health) and how to use it to transform your body!
Walking is a Wonder Drug
Did you know that Dr. Friedrich Nietzsche – one of the most influential modern philosophers and thinkers – walked for at least one hour every morning and three every afternoon? Other greats who swore by walking include Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Ludwig Van Beethoven.
There's a reason some of the greatest minds from the past and present think highly of walking – it's amazing for you!
In the words of Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former director of the CDC, walking is one of the simplest, most accessible wonder drugs we have. "The more, the better," says Dr. Frieden.
Here are some of the health benefits walking has to offer:
- Boosts heart and lung health
- Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke
- Reduces risk of cancer
- Improves immune function
- Strengthens bones
- Improves balance
- Minimizes joint pain
- Reduces sweet cravings
- Counteracts weight-promoting genes
- Triggers weight loss
- Builds muscle
- Improves endurance
- Supports better sleep
- Improves memory and cognition
- 11.5 cups (2.7 liters or 0.7 gallons)
The list could go on! This accessible, effective form of physical activity is one of the best ways to transform your health. The more you walk, the more health benefits you'll reap, so keep reading to find out how much you should aim for.
How Much to Walk
Healthy adults should ideally get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. And the general rule of thumb for walking is at least 30 minutes daily.
If you walk for 30 minutes a day, you'll hit your 150 minutes for the week and then some. This is good – 150 minutes is a minimum goal! And as you build up to more walking, you should be able to reach at least 45 minutes a day, which will more than double your exercise goal.
For those who have time, 60 minutes a day is even better. And if you're a dog owner, this is probably what you should aim for, as that's usually the minimum our canine companions need to stay healthy and fulfilled.
You don't need to aim for an hour a day right away, though. If you're new to walking regularly, here's how to build up to it:
- Week 1: 20 minutes/day
- Weeks 2-3: 30 minutes/day
- Weeks 4-7: 45 minutes/day
- Week 8 and onward: 60 minutes/day
Stick to this routine, and you'll improve your baseline with slow and steady progress. And by the time you've reached an hour a day, you'll likely already start to notice weight loss, improved endurance, better sleep, elevated moods, and reduced joint pain.
How Fast Should I Walk?
You might imagine you need to put on your best 80s clothes and powerwalk around the neighborhood to reap the benefits of walking, but there's no need. Instead, walk at the highest intensity you can comfortably maintain during your walk – you don't have to feel out of breath or drenched in sweat to lose weight!
Your walking intensity might go up and down depending on the day or where you're at in your walking route. But remember, the faster you walk, the more ground you'll cover and the more calories you'll burn. Many people like to aim for one mile every 20-30 minutes, which is 2-3 miles per hour.
How to Walk Correctly
Think you already know how to walk just fine? You should check your form to be sure. Walking around the grocery store is different from walking every day. And walking in bad form can cause painful health problems like:
- Low back pain
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner's knee)
- Iliotibial band syndrome
Make it a habit to check how you're walking at the beginning, middle, and end of your walk. And when you're just starting out, you might want to keep a list of pointers on your phone or a piece of paper to review.
Here are the basics of good walking posture:
- Back straight: Stand tall as though there's a string on top of your head pulling straight up to prevent slouching.
- Eyes forward: Look about 10-20 feet in front of you with your eyes up and chin parallel to the ground to keep your neck happy.
- Shoulders down: Roll your shoulders up, back, and down before relaxing them – don't let them creep up toward your ears!
- Arms moving: Let your arms swing naturally from your shoulders to reduce stress on your spine and make your walk easier. Don't swing them from the elbows.
- Neutral, supported spine: Keep your core tight and your back straight – you don't want to tuck your tailbone under or stick your butt out.
- Graceful walk: Step heel to toe in a light, rolling stride instead of flat-footed with a thud. A smooth, quiet stride is best for your joints and reduces the risk of injury.
You'll also want supportive walking shoes to keep your feet happy and healthy. Pick shoes based on where you walk. For example, you'll want trail shoes if you walk on trails. And if you walk on sidewalks, you'll want pavement shoes.
Get new walking shoes every year to keep your feet happy. And if you experience foot pain, find a local shoe store that offers arch analysis and custom insoles. If the pain persists, visit a podiatrist.
Manage Aches and Pains
Whether you're sore from your new walking routine or you have chronic aches and pains from old injuries, manage them so you can walk comfortably. And always consult your doctor before dramatically changing your physical activity level.
You can make pain management easy and avoid painkillers by wearing the Kailo Pain Patch on every walk (or all day, every day!). The Kailo Pain Patch is designed to relieve pain in seconds without oral medication.
Participants of a recent clinical study showed a significant decrease in pain and an increase in quality of life when switching to the Kailo Pain Patch from oral medication. In fact, the study showed that 99% of patients felt pain relief within 10 minutes of using Kailo.
Disclaimer: Kailo should not be used if you have a pacemaker or if you are pregnant. Always consult your doctor or health care professional before using Kailo.