for those who love the outdoors

7 July, 2022

Walking - the most underrated form of exercise

Walking as an exercise if often overlooked, but it has many benefits to help you burn calories, help your cardiovascular system and can help reduce things like blood pressure.

Walking as exercise

Add a new walking routine to your day

Walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier. You do not have to walk for hours. A brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

People often think of exercise as going for a run, hitting the gym hard, picking up a tennis racket or joining the latest zumba, HIIT or cardio class but actually, to keep your heart healthy and burn calories, a good walk can bring you all of those benefits that those exercise classes bring too!

Is walking daily enough?

It may sound like it's not, but just 10 minutes of walking at moderate intensity can help you to improve your fitness levels. If you want to walk for longer periods of time, then that's great, however sometimes we all struggle with daily life chores to go further. If you can't commit to a longer walk, then don't worry!

Walking is a form of cardio and aerobic exercise, which means it helps to improve the health of your heart and lungs while also helping to strengthen your muscles.

Walking as an aerobic exercise

There are many benefits of walking. An aerobic exercise is any activity that gets your heart pumping and makes you breathe harder. Walking is a great form of aerobic exercise because it's relatively low-impact, meaning it places less stress on your joints than running or other high-impact activities. This makes it a good option for people of all fitness levels and ages as even your littlest toddler taking their first steps through to walking over 10,000 steps a day as an adult - you'll benefit from that extra movement.

Walking burns calories

Can walking really burn calories?

Walking is a great way to burn calories. If you are trying to lose weight or maintain your weight, then adding a daily walk to your routine can help or you could follow a simple walking programme to help you build up your walk duration. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds (73 kg), then you can burn approximately 100 calories by walking at a moderate pace for just 30 minutes.

Can you lose weight walking?

Just look at toddlers... typically, the second they start to move their feet and walk around the house, garden or park, you'll see their baby fat start to drop off (balanced with a good diet of course). So does the same theory work for adults?

The short answer is yes! Walking can help you to lose weight, as well as tone your legs, thighs and bum.

How much should I walk to lose weight?

So how much walking do you need to do to see results? Well, it depends on your current fitness levels and weight loss goals but a good place to start is by aiming for a 30 minutes of moderate intensity walking per day, five days a week. If you can’t commit to walking every day, then start with three days a week and gradually increase your physical activity each week until you have it comfortably scheduled into your weekly routine.

Plan walking

How to add walking into your daily routine

We all lead busy lives. Work, children, chores - it can all add up to making it find it hard to find time for you. If you normally drive your kids to school, can you park a little bit further away from teh school gates and give yourself an extra minutes walk?

What about getting off the bus a stop early? That thirty minute walk will be just what you need to destress at the end of a long day, before walking through your front door.

At first it can be tricky to fit walking into your daily exercise but stick with it and you'll find it gets easier and more enjoyable the more you do it. Soon, you might even be looking for reasons to add a few more steps into your day!

The best thing is...it's FREE!

That's right, walking is free! No expensive gym memberships here and you may not even need trainers if you want to get into barefoot walking (or running) as a form of exercise.

Going barefoot can help to improve your posture and also strengthen the muscles in your feet and lower legs but if you have any concerns, please consult with a medical professional first.

Walking can also be done anywhere - whether it's around the block, at your local park or even on a treadmill at home, so there really are no excuses not to get moving with regular walking.

Walking heart rate and pulse check

What's a good heart rate for walking?

It's all relative, we're all a little different and that's what makes us so unique.

Your pulse (heart rate) is a standard measurement of how many times your heart beats per minute and increases or decreases depending on how hard you're exerting yourself.

To say one heart rate is "better" over another is tricky and not a fair measurement as especially if you're starting out for the first time, there are many factors to consider such as size, weight, existing fitness levels and so on. There would be a big difference too in my own heartrate, for example, if I was walking by myself with my favourite podcast in my ears (check out the Outside & Active podcast here) or taking my children for a hike up the hills of Devil's Dyke in Sussex.

According to the American Heart Association, the "normal" beats per minutes (bpm) for an adult at rest is 60-100 bpm. But as we said, it's all relative and so a better way to measure how hard you're working is by using the "talk test".

The Talk Test

The talk test helps you with your walking pace and goes like this:

  • If you can carry on a conversation without being too out of breath, then you're working at a moderate level.
  • If you can only say a few words in between breaths, then you're working at a vigorous level.
  • If you can't say anything at all, then you're working too hard and need to slow down (unless of course you're into racing... we'll save that for another day).

Walking is a great form of exercise but like with any new activity, please check with your doctor first if you have any concerns.

Walking inspiration

Need inspiration for your next walk?

Have a look at some of these amazing walks we've recently shared on Outside & Active to give you inspiration for your next walk.

Three Weekend Walks in the UK

Walk the river Taff

Walk the Pilgrims Way

Summer Walks in Scotland

We hope this gives you a better understanding of walking as exercise and how it can benefit you. Share your walks to help inspire others to get outside and active on Instagram @beoutsidebeactive

Happy walking! :)