Walking 101

Woman walkingWalk­ing is one of the eas­i­est ways to get in shape, burn calo­ries and improve your health.  Because walk­ing can be done when­ev­er and wher­ev­er,  it is also one of the most prac­ti­cal types of exer­cis­es to main­tain for the long-term.

The Nation­al Weight Con­trol Reg­istry, a reg­istry which tracks the habits of over 5000 peo­ple who have suc­cess­ful­ly lost and main­tained their weight loss for more than a year, has found that most peo­ple exer­cise about one hour a day and most of them walk as a form of exer­cise.  So, if weight loss and or weight main­te­nance is your goal, grad­u­al­ly increas­ing your walk­ing time to 60 min­utes a day is a good long-term goal for you.

Besides help­ing with weight loss and weight main­te­nance, walk­ing has numer­ous oth­er ben­e­fits.  Walk­ing is good for your heart, strength­ens your bones, helps pre­vent chron­ic dis­eases, improves sleep, reduces depres­sion and helps your brain func­tion bet­ter.


Get­ting start­ed:

1.  Find out what your “base­line” is.   Base­line is the length of time you have been walk­ing or can walk with­out dis­com­fort.    Let’s say you walk 5 min­utes a day.  Five min­utes is about 500 steps or 14 mile, that’s your base­line.

2.  Deter­mine a SMART goal: It should be Specif­ic, Measur­able, Attain­able, Rele­vant and Time bound.

Spe­cif­ic:  “I will walk 3 times a week on Mon­day, Wednes­day and Fri­day before work.”

Mea­sur­able: “I will walk for 10 min­utes.”

Attain­able or doable: “I have walked for 10 min­utes before, I know I can do it again.”

Rel­e­vant:  “I want to be able to walk with my chil­dren and/or hus­band at the park with­out feel­ing tired and wind­ed. ”

Time bound:  “I want to be able to walk three miles for the char­i­ty walk which is at the end of the month.”

An exam­ple of a good goal would be:  “I will walk 10 min­utes on Tues­day and Thurs­day morn­ings before work.” A bad goal would be “I will try to walk more.”

3.  Each week increase your work­out by about 10%-20%,  if you have a pedome­ter add 500‑1000 steps a day, keep adding either time, dis­tance or steps until you have reached your goal.


Prop­er Form and Work­out Guide­lines
  • Warm-up. Always use the first few min­utes as a warm up by walk­ing at an easier/slower pace.  Once your body is warmed up, increase your speed to a brisk, pur­pose­ful pace.
  • Form.
    • Keep your head up, shoul­ders relaxed, abs tight and eyes focused about 10 feet ahead.
    • Bend your arms about 90 degrees and swing arms front to back. Elbows shouldn’t swing high­er than your ster­num. Swing­ing your arms this way helps you walk more briskly as well as pre­vents your hands from swelling up by accu­mu­lat­ing too much flu­id.
    • Foot posi­tion. Land on your heel, then roll through the step and push off with your toes.
    • Take nat­ur­al and com­fort­able strides; avoid over­strid­ing as this may cause injury. If you want to walk faster take short­er and quick­er steps.
  • Inten­si­ty. Use the “Talk Test” to mod­er­ate your inten­si­ty.  You should still be able to car­ry a con­ver­sa­tion when you walk.   If you are breath­less and can’t talk you are walk­ing too fast.  On a scale from 0–10 with 0 being at rest and 10 being max­i­mal effort, you should be between a 5 and 6.  You can talk but not sing.
  • Stretch­ing. Use the last few min­utes to stretch and hold each stretch for 15–30 sec­onds.








1. The Walk­ing Site. Begin­ning a Fit­ness Walk­ing Pro­gram. http://www.thewalkingsite.com/thr.html. Accessed on May 15, 2011.

2. Dai­ly Step Goal of 10,000 Steps: A lit­er­a­ture review. Clin­i­cal Invest Med. 2007, 30(3): 146–151

3. Pub­lic Health Agency of Canada/Health Cana­da. Canada’s Phys­i­cal Activ­i­ty Guide to Healthy Active Liv­ing. Cat. No. H39-429/1998–1E. Ottawa: Health Cana­da, 1998. (Last Updat­ed 2003-10-08.) http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/hl-mvs/pa-ap/07paap-eng.php. Accessed on May 15, 2011

4. City of Ottawa. Step Up and Be Count­ed: Let’s Get Walk­ing with a Pedome­ter. Ottawa: City of Ottawa, 2004.



1 Comment

  1. Nice calf mus­cles. Huehner­beine!

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