Is Walking Enough Exercise?

person walking for exercise

At Foundation FIT, we love to recommend walking to our clients. It’s an amazing way to up your daily movement, get outside in nature and generally feel a little more relaxed from the hubbub of daily life. But many of our clients who really enjoy walking have asked us, is it enough? Can I just go for several walks a week and see results in my fitness?

Is Walking Enough Exercise?

That’s a great question, and it’s also kind of a loaded one. Ultimately, the role of walking in your exercise program depends on where you’re coming from and where you’re going. Walking is an incredible option for those who are:

  • Shifting from a primarily sedentary lifestyle and incorporating more low-intensity movement as the beginning stages of a more long-term fitness plan.
  • Recovering from major surgery, minor procedure, or illness.

If you fall into any of the above situations, walking may be just what you need to get started. But if your body is capable of doing more, you should look for ways to do more.

Regardless of your fitness status, only 26% of people are actually walking to the intensity necessary to see results. And the intensity we’re talking about is the pace you’d walk if you were late for a plane or a bus. Imagine how your strides pick up when you hear your name come over the airport loudspeaker that you’re the last to board. That’s the pace required to see results from walking.

But more so than intensity, only 34% of people are walking the appropriate number of days per week to make a difference. And as we explained in our post about how frequently you need to work out to see results, the recommendation for walking is more days than not, which works out to 4 days a week.

If you’re ready to commit to walking 4 days a week or more at a decent pace, be sure you consider some barriers that could prevent you from making it part of your regular routine.

Considerations for Walking

While walking is a good supplement to exercise, there are also some considerations if you’re looking to make it your primary form of movement.

  • Time: When you think about walking as your only form of exercise, consider your daily constraints, like time and weather. If you struggle to find time for a 20-minute workout, you probably won’t be able to commit to a 45-minute daily walk. Be realistic about your expectations.
  • Weather: Do you have a contingency plan for weather? Or does your workout go out the door when the weather heads south?
  • Overuse injuries: The repetitive movement of walking can cause overuse injuries like shin splints or plantar fasciitis. What do you plan to do in the event of an overuse injury?

For those who are walking regularly and ready for more of a challenge, we have a few ideas to help you get going.

What Should You Do Beyond Walking?

What you do beyond walking really depends on your goals. If you want to get stronger, you’ll probably look at starting to strength train by working with a personal trainer or joining up with a local gym that specializes in CrossFit and HIIT classes. If you want to build balance, you may look to yoga, pilates, or barre classes.

Take a few minutes to think about and write down your personal goals. Then, search for the best types of exercises to help you achieve them. When you’ve decided on a next step and you’re ready to take your exercise routine to the next level, it may also be a good idea to talk to a trainer or coach. Fitness professionals can guide you on what you can do outside of walking to see optimal results.

The Last Word About if Walking is Enough Exercise

You’ve been performing the motions of walking since you were a wee toddler. And that means it doesn’t take all that much effort to do it. However, stepping outside of your comfort zone and incorporating different kinds of training can challenge your body in new ways and may end up giving you more results. Regardless of what you add to the routine, remember that there will always be a place for walking in your fitness plan.

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