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Simply put, walking is just plain good for you. It's a form of low-impact exercise with definite mood-boosting effects, including a demonstrated ability to alleviate depression.[1] In addition, studies have shown that countries in which walking is common experience lower rates of obesity than countries that rely on cars for transportation.[2] In other words, walking can make you happier and healthier. So, see Step 1 below to get started, then turn off the computer, put on some walking shoes, and get out there and walk!

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:
Walking with Good Form For Exercise

  1. 1
    Stand upright as you walk. Although everyone has their own unique, individual gait, certain common behaviors can improve almost everyone's walking experience. Chief among these is your posture. As you walk, keep your head upright, your back straight, and your chin up. Maintaining this posture will keep your spine straight and help you breathe by taking pressure off your diaphragm.
    • Resist the urge to hunch or slouch as you walk. Over time, bad posture can lead to back pain, a stiff neck, and even more serious maladies.[3]
  2. 2
    Use your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps to walk efficiently. An effective walking motion uses nearly all of the muscle groups in the leg - not just one. As you walk, visualize pushing off with your back foot using your hamstrings and quadriceps and propelling yourself forward onto the heel of your other foot. Roll your foot forward, heel-to-toe, as you make your step.[4] This brings your calf muscles into play - use them to keep your feet at the correct (elevated) angle for each step.
  3. 3
    Keep your shoulders pulled back, but relaxed.[5] Even though the majority of the muscles used to walk are in your legs and core, you'll still want to keep an eye on the posture of your upper body. Keeping your shoulders in a relaxed, pulled-back position serves several purposes. It maintains a stable, "vertical column" of support while you walk stretching from your neck to your hips. This works in conjunction with a straight back and an elevated chin to minimize the strain on the back as you walk, preventing injury in the long-term. Also, it's simply a good habit to get into to prevent slouching, which, as previously noted, can result in shoulder pain and strain.
    • Finally, pulling your shoulders back makes you look good by projecting confidence and strength. This is a small but not insignificant point - why look mediocre while you walk when you can look great and protect yourself from injury in the process?
  4. 4
    Swing your arms as you walk. For most, this should be second nature. As you walk, let your arms hang naturally at your side. Your arms should begin to swing in small arcs as you start to walk - the quicker you walk, the larger the arcs.[6] Moving your arms is a natural part of walking - it's been found to increase the efficiency of your stride, allowing you to walk farther on the same amount of metabolic energy than you would while keeping your arms still.[7] So, don't be afraid to swing your arms as you walk. Don't worry - you won't look like a power walker.
    • If weather permits, try to keep your hands out of your pockets. Doing so allows you to receive the benefits of swinging your arms, meaning you'll be able to walk faster and farther than you would otherwise.
  5. 5
    Start out at a reduced warm-up pace. For the first few minutes of your walk, keep an even, comfortable rhythm as your body warms up. Assuming that 100% represents the absolute fastest you can walk without breaking into a run, try walking at about 50 - 60% of this level of exertion. As a general rule, you should be able to speak normally and carry on a conversation without being breathless during your warmup.
    • Though there is some debate on the matter, general warmups have been shown to increase performance during cardiovascular exercise.[8]
  6. 6
    Increase your walking speed to moderate intensity after warming up. When you feel comfortable doing so, pick up the pace to about 70 - 80% of your maximum walk speed. Maintain good form as you pick up speed. At this moderately intense pace, you should eventually start to breathe hard, but not gasp. You should be able to maintain a conversation, but not necessarily be able to do this extremely easily.
    • Resist the urge to start taking long, unnatural strides as you speed up. Lengthening your gait in this manner stretches out your leg muscles and destabilizes your core, leading to discomfort over time.
    • To improve your cardiovascular health, warm up and maintain this pace for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week. Studies have also shown that breaking up this 30-minute session into multiple chunks throughout the day is similarly effective, so long as one spends an equivalent total amount of time walking.[9]
  7. 7
    Cool down at the end of your walk. After you've maintained your elevated pace for 30 minutes (or longer), decrease your pace back to your warmup pace. Spend 5 to 15 minutes walking at this lower pace. A cooldown session at the end of a high-intensity walk allows you to gradually (rather than abruptly) return to your resting heart rate.[10] Plus, it just plain feels great.
    • This last point is definitely worth consideration. The better you feel after exercise, the more likely you are to repeat your exercise consistently. Thus, good cooldown sessions can help increase your long-term gains from exercise.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 3:
Going the "Extra Mile"

  1. 1
    Get comfortable walking shoes. If you're about to start an exercise regimen of daily walking, consider buying a comfortable pair of walking shoes if you don't already have a pair. A good pair of shoes can do wonders for your performance, improving your gait and allowing you to walk comfortably for longer than you otherwise would. Pick shoes that provide good stability to help keep your feet straight as you walk, cushioning to protect your heel when you step, and support for your ankle to prevent injury. The employees in the shoe section of most athletic stores should be able to help you make an informed choice.[11]
    • You don't necessarily have to delay your walking regimen just because you don't have a sporty set of purpose-built sneakers. Though these will provide the maximum benefit, any pair of shoes that you can walk in comfortably for long periods of time without developing pain or blisters can potentially be walking shoes.
  2. 2
    Dress appropriately for walking. When walking, there are some basic practical considerations you'll want to keep in mind as you choose your clothing. You'll want to be prepared to work up at least a light sweat. Usually, a simple cotton t-shirt can help here, keeping you comfortable by absorbing sweat. You'll also want to pick pants that don't inhibit your gait at all. Sweatpants, shorts, track pants, and even comfortable jeans are all possibilities. Finally, you'll want to pick clothing suitable for the weather so that you're not forced to cut your walk short when you're waylaid by wind, rain, or heat. If it's cold, you'll want to bring a coat or a windbreaker, whereas if it's hot, you'll want to wear shorts, and so on.
    • As with your shoes, don't feel the need to don sporty exercise gear just to get out there for a walk. The benefits of a lycra bodysuit, for instance, are minimal - unless you're really serious about walking, it's usually OK to rely on the clothing you already have rather than to buy something new.
  3. 3
    Plot a course that provides the level of exercise you desire.Where you walk can have just as much of an effect on the exercise benefit you receive as how fast you walk. Early on, you may want to stick to mostly level ground. As you become more confident, you can challenge yourself by setting more difficult or longer walking routes.
    • Hiking up and down hills is a great way to get exercise. However, this can also increase the strain on your muscles and joints, especially your ankles, which will need to support your feet as they angle up for each step. Approach steep hills as you would approach a heavy set of weights at the gym - build up to your goal, rather than tackling it immediately.
  4. 4
    Take a moment to stretch before you walk. Though walking isn't as intense a form of exercise as running, weightlifting, rock climbing, and other forms of exercise, injury is still a possibility. To lessen the chance of injury from walking and to improve your flexibility, stretch before and/or after you exercise. Taking a moment to stretch your legs and arms for 5 - 10 minutes before you walk will make walking more comfortable and can keep you in better shape in the long run.[12]
    • Note that the benefits of stretching (and the consequences of not stretching) are increased if you suffer from a chronic condition like back pain or arthritis.
    • Because your legs are the primary muscles used in the walking process, you'll want to prioritize lower body stretches, though core stretches and even upper body stretches can also provide benefits, especially if you're prone to pain in these areas. Below are just a few types of stretches you may want to perform:
  5. 5
    Aim to gradually increase your speed and distance over time. The benefits of starting a walking regimen when you previously had no exercise routine will quickly become apparent - your mood will likely elevate, you'll feel more energetic, and you may even lose weight (assuming you don't begin to eat more to compensate for the energy you use while exercising). To increase these benefits, feeling even better, having more energy, and potentially losing more weight, you'll want to increase the distance you walk, the speed at which you walk, or, best of all, both. Treat walking like you would any other exercise routine, gradually increasing your burden over time, and you'll be surprised at the changes in how you look and feel.[13]
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Part 3
Part 3 of 3:
Working a Walking Regimen Into Your Life

  1. 1
    Use walking as your primary method of transportation. Walking purely for exercise and no other reason is a great idea, but you can greatly increase the amount of time you walk every day by making the choice to walk everywhere you go. In addition, because of its demonstrated mood-boosting effects, walking to the places you need to during your day ensures you arrive energized, alert, and ready to perform to the utmost of your ability. If you walk enough throughout your daily routine, you may not even need to devote any extra time to exercise! Below are just a few common opportunities for walking:[14]
    • Your daily commute. This is a big one. If you can manage to walk to and from work (or walk to a public transportation station) rather than driving, not only will you get exercise and avoid the tedium of morning and evening commutes, but also reduce your impact on the environment in terms of pollution.
    • Trips to the store. Many people make trips to the store for groceries or other common purchases several times a week. If you use this opportunity to go for a walk, you'll get exercise from walking on the way to the store and additional exercise on the way back from carrying your purchases home.
    • Trips to friends' houses. Finally, if you're going to hang out with a friend, take the opportunity to walk, rather than drive. Doing so helps ensure you'll be in a great mood and have plenty of energy for having fun when you show up.
  2. 2
    Use walking as a form of recreation. As noted above, it's smart to walk as a way of getting where you need to be, but you don't necessarily need any reason to walk other than that you want to. Besides being a form of exercise, walking can be just plain fun (assuming that the weather is good). It's a great way to get out of the house, get some fresh air, and see what the world has to offer. Rather than spending all of your free time on the couch, devote some of your recreational time to walking. You'll find that it's a lot more rewarding than watching TV in the long run.
    • One good idea for walking as a form of recreation is to use the opportunity to explore. Venture off the beaten path of roads that you use to get to and from work or school. You'll discover hidden secrets, handy shortcuts, and places that you didn't know existed.
  3. 3
    Walk as a social opportunity. It's hard to meet new people if you're in your house all day, so take the opportunity to go for a stroll! Walking in public in places like malls, street fairs, and busy downtown streets is a time to present yourself to others and potentially make new connections. It also allows you to participate in your community simply by virtue of the fact that if you're physically present in it, you're more likely to participate. It's easy to forget the simple pleasures of seeing and being seen if you aren't out and about regularly, so get up and get out!
    • Walking is a great way to gently start "coming out of your shell" if you're shy. While there are more effective ways to meet new people, walking is good choice for people who have been withdrawn for a long time and are looking to ease back into a new social life. Plus, on the off chance that you strike up a conversation with a new person when you're out walking, you'll naturally be more energetic and alert than you might otherwise have been because of the mood-elevating effects of walking.
  4. 4
    Walk to keep up your appearance. Proper walking form has some nice side benefits for one's appearance. For starters, walking provides an obvious benefit in the form of improving your general fitness. Like all forms of exercise, walking can help you become fit and trim, increasing your attractiveness.[15] Beyond this basic benefit, however, there are others. For instance, keeping good form while walking can gradually contribute to a habit of good posture. People almost always look better when they're standing straight and erect than when they're slouched.
    • For men, maintaining proper posture while walking by keeping your upper body straight and your shoulders back has the added benefit of accentuating the pectoral muscles and tensing your abdominal muscles, making you look slightly more muscular than you would otherwise. For women, this will have the benefits above.
    • Don't feel vain for investing time, thought, and energy in your appearance. Physical attraction is a real, legitimate component of one's dating potential and should not be ignored.
  5. 5
    Be consistent. However you choose to work your new walking routine into your life, it's important to remember to stick with it. The effects of a walking routine are most pronounced when that routine is practiced regularly. Going for a few long walks and then neglecting to walk again for a month won't give you much of a benefit in terms of health, mood, or appearance. However, walking for forty five minutes five times a week will. Give yourself a routine and stick to it - you owe it to yourself to make the most of your potential.[16]
    • With the demands of your work, school, and/or family competing for your time, it can be tricky to make time for walking every day. If you're having trouble being consistent when it comes to your walking regimen, try making up for this by taking the opportunity to take small walks throughout the day. Below are just a few ideas for when you may want to do this:
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Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Question
    How can I find time to walk?
    Christopher Carreiro
    Certified Personal Trainer
    Christopher Carreiro is a Certified Personal Trainer and the Founder of Aum Training Center in Boston, Massachusetts. With over 10 years of experience, Chris specializes in helping busy people look and feel years younger. He does so by integrating holistic nutrition and mindfulness into life-changing transformation programs. In addition to being a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Coach, Chris is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He also has a Master’s degree in Psychology with a specialization in life coaching.
    Certified Personal Trainer
    Expert Answer
    Take a few minutes during a lunch break or just get up and walk around your home whenever there are commercials on TV.
  • Question
    Should I be doing anything special with my feet as I'm walking?
    Monica Morris
    ACE Certified Personal Trainer
    Monica Morris is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) Certified Personal Trainer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 15 years of fitness training experience, Monica started her own physical training practice and gained her ACE Certification in 2017. Her workouts emphasize proper warm-ups, cool-downs, and stretching techniques.
    ACE Certified Personal Trainer
    Expert Answer
    When you propel forward, your toes and heel should also be included. People have a tendency to walk with a flat foot just to get to where they're going, but if you actually use your foot as a spring, you can assist your body with that forward motion.
  • Question
    Which foot should I push off on when walking?
    Εμμανουήλ Κρητικός
    Community Answer
    Your back foot. Try to engage your entire back leg and the glute above your back leg to push. Don't stride too far or too close. Always feel your glutes tense to calibrate your walk. If necessary, put your hands on your glutes so you can sense the tension, if you're a novice walker. Walking is a forward motion, so always pay attention to the back of your body, not your front. Your front side of the body should play almost no role in walking. The back pushes itself forward, so pay attention to it.
  • Question
    Will this help tone my butt?
    Community Answer
    If done with proper form, your glutes should be involved and will be affected.
  • Question
    Is it normal that I can't feel my feet when I walk?
    Community Answer
    No, that is not normal. I would recommend seeing a doctor.
  • Question
    Will walking properly help with back pain?
    Community Answer
    It definitely could, as carrying your weight properly could ease the strain on your back.
  • Question
    How do I walk properly so that I am not embarrassed?
    Community Answer
    You will just have to work with yourself and stop caring what people think.
  • Question
    I notice that as I bring either leg forward that my foot appears to be swinging inward with each step. What can I do about it?
    Community Answer
    If your toes are turning inward, ask your doctor about it. He/she may recommend a podiatrist or physical therapist.
  • Question
    Should I walk with a stride or not?
    Community Answer
    Yes, this is ladylike and portrays you as a person of high class.
  • Question
    Can I walk 90 minutes a day?
    Community Answer
    As long as you're comfortable with that, then yes, you can walk 90 minutes a day.
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      • Don't walk with uncomfortable shoes, especially for long distances. Blisters, hot spots and foot strain can result. Worse, foot pain will create negative associations with walking, lessening your motivation.
      • If you feel like you simply absolutely have to wear uncomfortable but nice shoes, try to keep walking in your uncomfortable shoes to a minimum or consider taking along a second pair of sneakers in your bag or backpack.
      • Try not to carry a heavy backpack or purse. A very heavy backpack can actually cause back and shoulder strain that can lead to damage. A heavy purse carried on one shoulder will cause you to raise one shoulder higher than the other to compensate, disrupting your posture.


      • Walk in safe places. Keep awareness of your surroundings and try to avoid unsafe situations. If necessary, take basic personal safety precautions.
        • If you live in an unsafe neighborhood, you may need to travel somewhere to find a nice safe place to walk around. On the plus side, this will provide you with a wider choice of places to walk around in.

      About This Article

      Co-authored by:
      Certified Personal Trainer
      This article was co-authored by Christopher Carreiro. Christopher Carreiro is a Certified Personal Trainer and the Founder of Aum Training Center in Boston, Massachusetts. With over 10 years of experience, Chris specializes in helping busy people look and feel years younger. He does so by integrating holistic nutrition and mindfulness into life-changing transformation programs. In addition to being a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Coach, Chris is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He also has a Master’s degree in Psychology with a specialization in life coaching. This article has been viewed 387,549 times.
      17 votes - 94%
      Co-authors: 23
      Updated: May 26, 2021
      Views: 387,549
      Categories: Walking

      Medical Disclaimer

      The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always contact your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing, or stopping any kind of health treatment.

      Article SummaryX

      To walk properly, start by standing with your head upright and your chin up, which will keep your spine straight and make it easier to breathe. When you take a step, roll your foot forward, starting on your heel and bringing the weight to your toes as you move. Also, keep your shoulders pulled back to support your back and prevent injury. Then, allow your arms to swing in small arcs naturally as you walk, which will increase the efficiency of your stride so you can walk longer. For tips on creating a walking regimen for exercise, read on!

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      Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 387,549 times.

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      • Jacob Sarah

        Jun 15, 2021

        "Thank you. Everybody laughed at me before because of my walking but this article has changed me."
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