>U Mom Knows Best: Ultimate Guide to Walking for Fitness

Monday, March 25, 2024

Ultimate Guide to Walking for Fitness

While different workouts have trended over the years, walking remains a mainstay in both fitness and overall health. In fact, just 30 minutes of walking per day can help reduce your risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease, while also making improving your day-to-day well-being.

 However, before you head out the door for your first walk, it’s important to have a plan in place. This is especially the case if you’re new to fitness or are recovering from an illness or injury that has left you unable to walk for long periods of time. 

 It’s also a good idea to talk with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to begin a fitness walking program. If they give you the green light, here's some key tips to help you get started towards walking 30 minutes a day, for five days per week. 

Bring the Right Walking Gear

 The great thing about walking is that you don’t need a lot of special fitness gear compared with other types of workouts, such as biking or boot camp-style exercises. However, it’s still a good idea to have a quality pair of walking shoes. 

 If you don’t yet have a pair, consider visiting a walking/running specialty store for a free assessment so you can find your perfect fit. If you already have shoes, inspect them to make sure there’s still tread on the bottom, and that they’re comfortable.

 Also, while you can walk in almost any weather, it’s important to dress appropriately for the season. This means dressing in layers when it’s cold out and wearing a hat and sunglasses during peak sunlight hours. Avoid walking on icy roads or during high winds and storms. Always bring a water bottle with you to stay hydrated

Start with Shorter Walks

 While you might be eager to get started with your new fitness walking regimen, overdoing it can result in injuries or fatigue, which can subsequently lead to discouragement and setbacks. 

Instead, the American Heart Association recommends starting your first day with two “easy walks” of 5 to 10 minutes each. The idea is to spread this out throughout your day. For example, you can go for a walk before and after work, or even during your lunch break. 

 From there, you can gradually start to go for longer walks of 30 minutes at a time. With each week, you can add on 5 to 10 minutes to your walks as you get stronger. However, if you start to feel fatigued, know that it’s okay to rest and add more time on to your next walk. ​

Mix Up Your Routine to Prevent Boredom

 Once you’re able to start lengthening the time of your walks, you’ll want to mix them up, so you’ll stick with your fitness walking program in the long run. You can try a weekly power walk, for example, or a long-distance walk on the weekend. Another way you can prevent boredom is to go on different routes, such as those with hills. 

You can also try alternating short walks with longer walks in your week as you build up strength and endurance. For example, you can take a 10-minute fast walk one day, and a 20-minute moderate-pace walk another day. 

Take One Rest Day Per Week

The American Heart Association also recommends taking a rest day from your walking routine each week. You can also use this day for an alternate activity, such as swimming, gardening, or yoga. The goal here is to give your muscles and joints a break from to prevent overuse injuries. You can pick the same rest day each week, such as a Saturday, or plan your rest day week-to-week based on weather conditions. 

Avoid Injury

Aside from a weekly rest day, be sure to stretch after each of your workouts! This will help prevent walking-related injuries and muscle soreness. Wear shoes designed for walking to help avoid foot and ankle injuries. Be sure to walk on well-lit sidewalks and paths and avoid walking on roads when possible. Pedestrian accidents are on the rise across the US, in 2021 there were 104 pedestrian deaths in Oklahoma City alone. Be careful at intersections as many accidents occur in these spots. If you must walk at night, consider reflective clothing and a headlamp.


 There are many benefits to beginning a walking exercise routine. Walking can help you lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health, and improve your balance, strength, and mobility. Walking has been shown to reduce stress and even improve your mood. Following these simple steps can help get your walking routine off on the right foot!​

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