Walking is one of the simplest activities and the best gifts you can give yourself. Think about it: you don’t need any gym equipment to do it, it’s something you can easily fit into your schedule, you can walk alone or with friends, and you can go at your own pace. The best part? Taking some healthy steps gives you the opportunity to explore new neighborhoods in and outside of your community. Plus, regular cardio is a great way to maintain a consistent routine, and the benefits that daily walking brings to your body are simply endless.
Eat this, not that! He contacted Dr. Mike Bohl, Ro’s Director of Content and Medical Education and a certified personal trainer, to discuss why it’s so healthy to take steps every day. He explains: “Walking is good aerobic exercise (which is good for cardiovascular health), can help maintain muscle mass and bone mineral density in the legs and core (which reduces the risk of injury), burns calories ( which helps maintain a healthy body weight), can help with balance (which is increasingly important to work on as you get older), and it’s a good time to focus on things like your posture too.”
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The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans we recommend that adults do 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week at a moderately intense level, and a brisk daily walk certainly fits the bill. By walking briskly for an hour, you can typically burn between 240 and 723 calories, according to Live Strong. So if you walk 2 1/2 hours every week, your calorie burn will increase!
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The only negative to be aware of when walking daily is to consider your personal health and fitness limits. For example, Dr. Bohl notes, “If you tend to drag your feet, walk somewhere that has a smooth surface (like a paved road). If you have trouble with balance, use an assistive device or walk with a friend who can “help you calm down. If you have a chronic condition that causes pain, like arthritis, make sure you’re not pushing your limits.”
Aside from these kinds of limitations, getting some healthy cardio around your block, on a walking trail, or wherever you prefer is super easy and fun to do. It’s also very convenient to take extra steps while running errands. Park at the far end of the car park or opt for the stairs. However, when you plan to hike and walk, Dr. Bohl notes, “One last thing to keep in mind is to wear comfortable walking shoes to make sure you’re not walking long distances with abnormal posture or blisters on your feet.”
There are extra steps (pun intended) you can take to raise the bar on your rides. First, you can weave in some intervals into your stride, which would involve picking up your pace to go faster, and then slowing it down to the speed you normally reach. Dr. Bohl says, “Varying your pace can make your walk more interesting and can also help you burn more calories.”
You can also make your walk more effective by choosing an area with hills so you don’t limit your exercise to a flat course. Dr. Bohl suggests, “Spend part of the walk up and part down.”
Be sure to include stairs whenever possible, as this is an excellent workout for your glutes, calves, quads and hamstrings. And finally, a sneaky way to burn a few extra calories during each step is to swing both arms back and forth in an exaggerated fashion. Hey, you’re walking anyway, so you might as well push your fitness to the max during the time you’re walking!
Alexa is Eat This, Not That!’s Associate Mind + Body Editor, overseeing the M+B channel and bringing readers compelling topics on fitness, wellness, and self-care. Read more about Alexa