Walking for Exercise: 5 Benefits That Will Improve Your Health Immediately After Reading

I literally broke my way into the joys and benefits of walking for exercise, and I love it! I broke my foot a week before Christmas. Wait, let me rephrase that accurately. My foot was broken by a distracted driver who drove over my foot as I stepped off a curb. After several months of not exercising, my foot finally healed enough for me to go back to running, or so I thought. As soon as the walking boot was off, so was I. I was off and running again.

As you are reading this, you perhaps already see what’s coming next. I re-injured my foot and had a setback. This forced me to take a look at walking for exercise as an alternative to running. Because I have been a runner all my life, walking, while intuitive, was new to me as any new form of exercise would be. So, I wanted to learn as much as I could about walking for exercise.

This article with cover:

  • The 5 benefits of walking for exercise
  • Walking vs. running
  • How long and how often should I walk for exercise
  • Can walking be my only cardio
  • How do I get started with a walking plan
  • What should I wear and bring with me on a walk
  • Can I listen to music or podcasts while walking for exercise
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Man walking near body of water. Walking for exercise.
Photo by Yogendra Singh on Pexels.com

The 5 benefits of walking for exercise

I learned as a 50+-year-old man with a lot of wear and tear on these tires, walking for exercise brings a lot of benefits that I frankly did not know about. So, let’s jump right into it. Here are just some of the few benefits you will enjoy and gain through walking for exercise.

1. Walking is great exercise

Finding a walking trail and taking a brisk walk is considered moderate-intensity aerobic activity as it is aerobic exercise, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) guidelines recommend that adults get 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Walking for exercise helps to improve the body’s circulation, which helps fight against heart disease.

2. Walking for weight loss

Walking for exercise in tandem with a healthy diet that includes superfoods can help in the battle with obesity and unwanted weight gain. Men and women, as we grow older, our metabolism slows, and we must control and maintain a healthy weight. Carrying around additional body fat is not healthy and will cause major health issues.

3. Walking may reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s

Here is a great reason walking for exercise is so important. The Arthritis Foundation cites a study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, “men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than those who walked less.”

4. Walking manages stress

This has been the greatest and fastest ROI for me and I am sure it will be for you as well. Whenever I feel stressed, I love going for a walk. Being outside and walking helps to clear your mind. Because walking releases endorphins, it will help take the edge off and put you in a better mood.

5. Get better sleep with walking

You will notice when walking for exercise, you will feel a certain level of calmness overtaking you. This calm will allow you to sleep much better, and most important, for those with trouble sleeping, it will provide a peaceful sleep through the night.

Walking vs. Running

Man wearing black tank top and shorts running along the seashore..
Photo by Leandro Boogalu on Pexels.com

What I notice as I get older is that I have aches and pains after running. I do not believe in the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. I didn’t buy it in little league (yes, I’m talking to you Coach Buzzy) when running 10 laps around the field, and I don’t buy it now. Both walking for exercise and running are great to get your heart pumping. Both offer many of the same benefits. But here is the main difference,

  • Walking is a low-impact exercise and easy on the joints.
  • Walking is good for those with lower back pain.
  • Running/jogging will expedite your goal of losing weight if that is your goal. Running will burn more calories quicker than walking but walking for exercise will do the job just as effectively.

How long and how often should I walk for exercise.

A group of people walking on the road.
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

As I indicated earlier, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, per week for optimal health benefits. This translates to 30 minutes of walking, five days a week. However, if you are just starting out, you can begin with shorter walks and gradually increase your time and frequency as your fitness level improves.

It’s also important to note that walking for exercise doesn’t have to be done all at once. You can break up your 30 minutes into three 10-minute walks throughout the day or two 15-minute walks. The key is to be consistent.

Remember, any amount of physical activity is better than none, so even if you can’t commit to 30 minutes of walking every day, try to fit in as much walking as you can throughout your day.

Can walking be my only cardio?

A tired man walking on treadmill in gym.
Photo by Julia Larson on Pexels.com

Yes, walking can be your only cardio exercise, as it provides many cardiovascular benefits. Walking for exercise can improve your heart health, increase your lung capacity, lower blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. But as you get older, it is recommended to include strength training exercises in your overall fitness routine to help build muscle, increase bone density, and improve your overall physical wellness.

Expert Tip:
Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

How do I get started with a walking plan

A woman and man carrying a tumbler while walking together.
Photo by Liliana Drew on Pexels.com

Walking may seem like a natural action, especially for someone over the age of 40. But there is a proper way when it comes to walking for exercise and you should create a walking plan.

  1. Work with your doctor: Before starting any strenuous exercise routine, you should first check in with your doctor. This is important if you have certain health conditions.
  2. Set a goal: If you have not exercised in some time, start slow and work your way up. Start with 5 to 10 minutes a day at a slow pace and gradually increase your time and pace. The chief thing is to get started.
  3. Get to Steppin: Walking for exercise is different from your everyday casual walk.
    • Warm up by slowly walking and gradually getting into your walking stride.
    • Walk with your head up.
    • Swing your arms from front to back with a slight 90-degree bend in your elbows (almost like a runner’s stride). Trust me when I say you will feel a difference in your cardio when you walk with speed and swing.
    • As you take each step, roll your foot from heel to toe and push off into your next step.
    • Slightly tighten your stomach muscles as you walk. Notice I said, slightly tighten, but I did not say hold your breath. This may take some practice and getting used to.
    • Remember, you are walking for exercise and not leisure. To test if your walk is at moderate intensity, you can take the “Talk Test.” When walking you should be able to talk, but not sing.
    • Cool down at the end of your walk by slowly walking for about 5 to 10 minutes at a slower pace.
  4. Keep a record: You can’t measure what you don’t track. It is important to know how you are progressing as you exercise. The activity tracker Fitbit is a great device to help with this allowing you to track your steps and your progress. It will also show how many calories you burn, monitor your heart rate, and can play your favorite songs.

What should I wear and bring with me on a walk?

A man walking in the cold on a trail for exercise.

Just like with any sport or activity, you must have the proper gear when walking for exercise. Because you will be walking outside, you must be prepared for all the elements. Whether it’s the sun, rain, heat, or cold weather, your dress must be appropriate for your climate.


Always strive for comfortable clothing. Your clothing should be loose-fitting and flexible. If you like to walk during the early mornings or late evenings, be sure to wear clothing that is bright and reflective so that you are seen by others. In addition to bright clothing, you could wear something as simple and easy as a high reflective sash.


So here is an obvious question, what is the best walking shoe? I can’t stress this next point enough; choosing the correct shoes is the most important piece of gear you will have as a walker. The purchase of walking shoes is an investment and can be a bit pricey. But again, your shoes are an investment in your health and will help you maximize the benefits of walking as an exercise.

Many times, we take for granted the importance of a good pair of shoes. A good walking shoe will help your balance, posture and comfort your feet. While walking is a low-impact activity, your feet are still pounding the pavement with every step you take.

According to the website Spine-Health, there are three essential guidelines for buying a great pair of walking shoes.

  1. Stability – the shoes should have a balanced and secure feel throughout the range of motion.
  2. Flexibility – the shoes should allow for a good degree of giving at the base of the toes, providing a smooth motion.
  3. Comfort – walking shoes should comprise contours and padding conformed closely to the feet, providing a snug fit at the heel and midfoot, with ample room in the forefoot.


It’s important to carry a water bottle while walking for exercise to stay hydrated. Hydration is crucial for maintaining optimal bodily function and preventing dehydration. When you exercise, your body loses water through sweat and respiration, so drinking water helps to replace the fluids lost and keeps you hydrated.

Remaining hydrated is important for everyone, but especially as we get older. Dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, and cramping, all of which can negatively impact your ability to exercise effectively. By staying hydrated, you can maintain your energy levels, reduce muscle fatigue, and perform better while walking for exercise.

7-minute meditation

Can I listen to music or podcasts while walking for exercise?

A modern pair of sneakers near a fitness bottle and headphones on pavement
Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

Most definitely. Listening to music or podcasts while walking for exercise can be an excellent way to make your workouts more enjoyable and help you stay motivated.

Research has shown that listening to music while exercising can increase endurance, reduce perceived exertion, and improve overall performance. Music can also help to distract you from feelings of fatigue and discomfort, making your workouts feel easier and more enjoyable.

Listening to podcasts while walking can provide an excellent way to learn something new or stay entertained while exercising. Podcasts can be a great distraction from the physical effort of exercise and can help you pass the time more quickly.

However, it is important to keep safety in mind when listening to music or podcasts while walking. Make sure that you can still hear your surroundings and stay aware from any potential hazards, such as traffic or uneven terrain. Consider using noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds that allow ambient noise to pass through or keep the volume at a moderate level so that you can still hear what’s going on around you.

Check out this amazing video, How many STEPS should I walk per day to stay HEALTHY? by Jeffrey Peng MD

Take Aways

  1. Walking for exercise has a lot of great benefits, such as, it is great exercise, it can help with weight loss, it reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s as well as stress, and it also promotes better sleep.
  2. Walking can be just as effective as running but with less impact to your joints and reducing lower back pain.
  3. Aim for 150 minutes of brisk walking, per week for optimal health benefits.
  4. Be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any strenuous exercise routine.

Go to the comment section and let us know your thoughts.

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Earnest Robinson Jr Coach and Author
Earnest Robinson Jr

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2 responses to “Walking for Exercise: 5 Benefits That Will Improve Your Health Immediately After Reading”

  1. Walking is a great way to exercise! Thank you for all the great ideas and tips! Snagged myself one of those reflective sashes!! I am going to be stylin’ as I am walking. 🙂

    1. Awesome! Please let us know how you progress with the walking.

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