Walking is an easy way to start and maintain a physically active lifestyle. It can help improve health even without weight loss. People who are physically active live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.
- It’s free! And does not require special skills, facilities, or expensive equipment.
- Walking is an easy physical activity to begin and maintain.
- Most people are able to walk, and many people with disabilities are able to walk or move with assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or walkers. In addition, walking is a year-round activity that can be done indoors or outdoors.
- Walking intensity, duration, and frequency are self-determined, and people can tailor their walking patterns to fit their time, needs, and abilities.
- Walking also has a lower risk of injury than vigorous-intensity activities, such as running.
- The amount and intensity of walking can be gradually increased over time to minimize the risk of injury, and walking promotion programs can include injury prevention efforts.
Brisk walking and swimming are good ways to move more. If you are not active now, ask your healthcare team about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you.
Before you start
- Use shoes or trainers that are comfortable, provide adequate support, and do not cause blisters.
- If you’re walking to work, you could wear your usual work clothes with a comfy pair of shoes and change shoes when you get to work.
- For long walks, you may want to take some water, healthy snacks, a spare top, sunscreen, and a sun hat in a small backpack.
- If you start going for longer walks regularly, you may want to invest in a waterproof jacket and some specialist walking shoes for more challenging routes.
How do I know if I’m walking fast enough?
A brisk walk is about 3 miles an hour, which is faster than a stroll. You can tell you’re walking briskly if you can still talk but cannot sing the words to a song.
How to stay Motivated
The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit. Think of ways to include walking in your daily routine such as:
- walking with intention and joy, enjoying every step
- walking part of your journey to work
- walking to the shops
- using the stairs instead of the lift
- leaving the car behind for short journeys
- walking the kids to school
- doing a regular walk with a friend
- going for a stroll with family or friends after dinner
Listen to music
Walking while listening to music or a podcast can take your mind off the effort. It can also get you into a rhythm and help you walk faster. You’ll be surprised at how fast the time goes when you’re walking to your favorite tunes.
Mix it up
Add variety to your walks. You do not have to travel to the countryside to find a rewarding walk. Towns and cities offer interesting walks, including parks, heritage trails, canal towpaths, riverside paths, commons, woodlands, heaths and nature reserves.
Join a group
Walk in a group is a great way to start walking, make new friends and stay motivated. Many community organizations offer group walks for health, leisure and as a means of getting around for people of all ages, backgrounds and levels of fitness.
Can walking help lower my chances of developing type 2 diabetes?
Here are some things you can do to lower your risk:
Lose weight and keep it off. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of your starting weight. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose about 10 to 14 pounds.
Move more. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, such as walking, 5 days a week. Try to work up to 30 minutes or more of physical activity on most days of the week. If you have not been active, talk with your health care professional about which activities are best. Start slowly to build up to your goal.
- Eat healthy foods most of the time.
- Eat smaller portions to reduce the amount of calories you eat each day and help you lose weight.
- Eat slowly and intentionally. Drink water instead of sweetened beverages.