Walking is also really easy to do, he points out: “You can do it anywhere, it's easy to get started, and there’s no setup time.” And, if you want to lose weight but are nervous about diving straight in to higher-impact activities, walking can help you lose body fat upfront, before you add in other types of fitness like running or spinning, says Matheny.
Aerobic exercise is believed by many scientists to be the single best predictor of weight maintenance. You can lose weight without exercise by reducing your caloric intake enough so that you burn more calories than you consume, but it takes a regular dose of exercise to keep your weight off. How much is not clear, but somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes of vigorous exercise several times per week, to 45 to 75 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five or more days per week is probably about right. Your mileage will vary, and so once you get to the weight that you want to be at you'll need to experiment with different amounts of exercise until you find the one that works for you. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that overweight and obese individuals progressively increase to a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week, but for long-term weight loss, overweight and obese adults should eventually progress to 200 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. These are general guidelines, and so again, you need to experiment to see what works for you.
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Aerobic training increases the rate at which oxygen inhaled is passed on from the lungs and heart to the bloodstream to be used by the muscles. Aerobically fit athletes can exercise longer and harder before feeling tired. During exercise they have a slower heart rate, slower breathing rate, less muscle fatigue, and more energy. After exercise, recovery happens more quickly. Aerobic fitness can be measured in a laboratory setting while exercising on a treadmill or bicycle. This is called maximal oxygen uptake or VO2 max.
“Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in America,” says Dan G. Tripps, PhD, the chief operating officer and director of exercise science for Speck Health, a lifestyle medicine practice in Seattle. “Associated with physical inactivity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking, cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately a quarter of all U.S. deaths. (3)
The third thing I noticed, was how walking reaffirmed my love for where I loved. When you wander daily around your locale, you start to look at it properly; when you do that, you notice how devastatingly beautiful it is. How weird, how sweet, how contrary, how chic. I saw hidden architectural loveliness and hilarious graffiti; outrageously stylish tiling on the exterior of ancient pubs, unutterably picturesque, Dickensian cut-throughs and alleyways. I saw more of the sky, more often, than I’d ever seen before.
Nina Barough is well known to power walkers in the UK. She founded the Walk the Walk Charity in 1999, and organises events, including The Moonwalk, a unique power walking marathon. The annual walk, which starts and ends in Battersea Park, London, attracted 15,000 walkers in 2003 and is in the process branching out worldwide. Nina lives in Finchampstead, Berkshire.
Fidgeting could increase your calorie burn and speed up your weight loss. In 1986, researchers for the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that fidgeting was a large contributor to daily calorie burn. In fact, this type of movement resulted in a calorie burn ranging from 100 to 800 calories per day! Tap your foot to the music on the radio while sitting in the office, or get up and walk back and forth while talking on the phone.
"By adding some variables into the mix you can turn a simple walk into a fun, fast interval session, burning a high level of calories, and in turn, crushing your fat cells,” adds Rob McGillivray, Founder of RETROFIT in West Hollywood. “Essentially we burn the most calories by repeatedly raising and lowering the heart rate, as opposed to keeping the heart rate at one steady pace, whether that be high or low. So, if you were to compare the heart rate fluctuations of someone walking up a mixture of steep hills and then add in variations of walking speeds, styles of walking (such as lunging, striding, side cross overs, etc.) to that of someone primarily running at a medium pace on a level gradient, you could see greater all round results on both your body's caloric burn and a greater degree of lower limb muscle groups being targeted. It is also said that hill walking, as opposed to running on a level gradient, can enable you to burn more fat without attacking lean muscle tissue.”
Aerobic exercise is indicated for patients who lack the ability to sustain activity for a desired period of time because of decreased cardiovascular efficiency. Oftentimes, these patients have complaints of fatigue with a given level of exercise. Aerobic exercise increases the body’s capacity to absorb, deliver, and utilize oxygen. However, there are some limitations to being able to use aerobic conditioning for older adults. Joint pain and/or muscle weakness may preclude a patient from being able to perform the multiple contractions needed to provide a cardiovascular stimulus. In those cases, strengthening exercises may be needed prior to attempting aerobic exercise. For example, when an individual who is not on β-blockers walks 200 m on the 6MWT, but the heart rate only increases 10 beats per minute (bpm), the assumption can be made that the individual was not able to exert enough effort to increase heart rate and that a lack of muscle strength may exist.30
"By adding some variables into the mix you can turn a simple walk into a fun, fast interval session, burning a high level of calories, and in turn, crushing your fat cells,” adds Rob McGillivray, Founder of RETROFIT in West Hollywood. “Essentially we burn the most calories by repeatedly raising and lowering the heart rate, as opposed to keeping the heart rate at one steady pace, whether that be high or low. So, if you were to compare the heart rate fluctuations of someone walking up a mixture of steep hills and then add in variations of walking speeds, styles of walking (such as lunging, striding, side cross overs, etc.) to that of someone primarily running at a medium pace on a level gradient, you could see greater all round results on both your body's caloric burn and a greater degree of lower limb muscle groups being targeted. It is also said that hill walking, as opposed to running on a level gradient, can enable you to burn more fat without attacking lean muscle tissue.”
When you engage in cardio exercise, your heart rate increases, pumping oxygenated blood and nutrients through your body, improving circulation and cardiovascular response. Post-exercise, your blood pressure decreases and you continue to see improved biomarkers for heart health for several hours. Walking is an easy way to enjoy these health benefits.
So where do you start? “The right place to start with walking intervals will depend on your current fitness level, but here's a treadmill interval template to test out and see what adjustments you need to make,” says Spraul. “Start by walking for 5 minutes at a comfortable speed with no incline to get warmed up. Once you're done there, increase the incline to 5 percent for 3 minutes (no need to increase the speed when you're first starting out). After those 3 minutes are up, return to 0 incline for 1 minute of rest, while keeping the same speed. Repeat this for 3-5 rounds, depending on how you're feeling. Then you can adjust as needed: To add difficulty, you can increase the ‘work’ time that you spend on the incline, decrease the time you spend ‘resting’ at 0 incline or increase the pace of each phase. Find what works for you, and slowly increase your difficulty over time to keep making progress!”
Sticking to a new fitness routine can be tough and sometimes you may be tempted to skip your workouts. While that’s completely normal, it can help you stay on track if you can easily remind yourself why you wanted to get in shape in the first place. Maybe you want to be able to keep up with your kids without getting out of breath, or perhaps you want to lower your cholesterol. Whatever it is that motivates you, write it down somewhere safe—like your phone. This way you can refer back to it when you need some extra motivation.
Bone density may not be one of the most exciting health benefits of walking, but it’s an important one. People with stronger bones avoid osteoporosis and all the problems that come with it like fractures, disability, and spine shrinkage (seriously, you can get shorter). And the best way to get strong, healthy bones is by doing weight-bearing exercises like running, dancing and, yes, walking, according to a large study done by Oxford. But when it comes to bones, it’s definitely use it or lose it: To keep your bones strong you have to keep exercising. The researchers found that adults who walked regularly had better bone density throughout their lives than their inactive friends. Find out which common walking mistake causes 11,000 injuries every year.
A brilliant book at all levels, Walking for Fitness is written by Nina Barough who started the Walk the Walk charity and is a power-walking guru. It covers absolutely everything, with sections on how to get started, basic walking technique, stretches and complimentary exercises, good walking shoes and clothing, cross training, food intake, related injuries, walking with children, walking while pregnant, walking for charities or in competitions and training programmes.

So to recap, walking daily is excellent. Walking daily for 10,000 steps or more is even better. And if you can do so outdoors in the sunshine, and barefoot for grounding, you’ll enjoy even greater benefits. To be clear, you don’t have to do your 10,000 steps a day all at once. You can break up your daily steps into any size increments that work for you. You might walk for one hour in the early morning, 30 minutes during your lunch hour, and another hour in the evening. Or you might enjoy taking shorter 20-minute walks throughout your day.
I personally walk about two hours a day or about 55 miles per week. I do this barefoot without a shirt on at the beach and so am able to get my sun exposure and read two or three books a week. Multi-tasking like this allows me to easily justify the time investment. Most don't realize that walking burns the same amount of calories as running, it just takes longer.

Nina Barough is well known to power walkers in the UK. She founded the Walk the Walk Charity in 1999, and organises events, including The Moonwalk, a unique power walking marathon. The annual walk, which starts and ends in Battersea Park, London, attracted 15,000 walkers in 2003 and is in the process branching out worldwide. Nina lives in Finchampstead, Berkshire.
Fitness trackers and fitness equipment can tally your calories burned while exercising, but they’re not always accurate. “Using a variety of sources and taking a ‘midpoint’ might help keep you honest,” says Hilaton. “I think it is important to keep in mind that all of these estimates of calories burned are just that: estimates. There are a lot of variables that go into the actual number of calories burned by any given individual in any exercise beyond speed and duration.” For a starting point, calculate your numbers with our Calories Burned Running Calculator.

A single activity can include elements of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. For example, interval training, where you alternate cycles of low-intensity (aerobic) and high-intensity (anaerobic) work during the same workout, has elements of both. So does a game of tennis where you might sprint at one moment (anaerobic) and then move less aggressively for several minutes (aerobic) as you hit ground strokes from the baseline.
Getting a solid eight hours snoozing in the sack is one of the most important things you can do for your health. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. Thankfully a brisk walk is basically Ambien, minus the pill (and the scary sleep-walking stories). In a large meta-analysis of sleep studies, researchers found that regular walkers had longer and better quality sleep. And for those unlucky few who still had insomnia? Walking helped reduce the number of sleepless nights they experienced. Find out which side of the road is safest for walking and why.
To estimate the amount of energy—remember, energy equals calories—the body uses during physical activity (versus when you’re at rest), scientists use a unit that measures the metabolic equivalent for task (MET). One MET is what your body burns while lounging on the couch watching Netflix. Walking, a "moderate" exercise, uses 3 to 6 METs; running, which is typically classified as "vigorous," uses 6 METs or more.
The elliptical machine may seem intimidating at first, but it’s easy to use once you get the hang of it. After warming up, keep your posture upright while you use your legs in a pedal motion to move the machine. Look forward the entire time, not down at your feet. Keep your shoulders back and abdominal muscles engaged. Cool down and exit the machine to stretch.
Bone density develops most quickly during childhood and adolescence, with peak bone mass reached sometime in the mid-20s or early 30s, depending on the person. At this point, osteoblasts slow the production of new bone cells, and bone-destroying osteoclasts continue at the same pace. What ends up occurring is that bone is broken down more quickly than it’s built up, resulting in its slow thinning. This thinning increases rapidly in women post-menopause, and seems to increase in men later in life.
I walked along my bus route, assuming that sooner or later, my arrival at another bus stop would coincide with the arrival of my bus. But it didn’t. So I walked some more, eventually making it to work, a mere 20 minutes later than I normally would have, calmer than I might have anticipated, and feeling like I’d accomplished something vaguely mammoth before 10am. I also felt liberated. Who wants to be enslaved to their public transport systems, beholden to the schedules, the whims and capriciousness. Suddenly, I had another option.
Walking can also increase your lung capacity. When you walk, you breathe in more oxygen as compared to when you are stationary. This exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide at a larger volume can help increase your lung capacity, thereby increasing your stamina and exercise performance (16). The best part is, you don’t even have to run. A medium-paced 60-minute walk (with breaks, if you need them!) can do the trick.
As you get fit, you burn less calories doing the exact same workout. Shift your walking workout into a higher gear by doing interval training. Start at a warmup pace for a couple minutes and then walk at a brisk pace. Every five minutes, increase your pace to a sprint level, either by speed-walking, running or skipping rope. Maintain this burst of speed for 30 seconds. Return to a slow walk for a minute and then back to your vigorous pace before the next sprint. You dramatically boost your heart rate during the sprints, and it stays raised during the recovery period, resulting in more calories burned.

Use the 1-to-10 scale of perceived rate of exertion to measure endurance. Think of 1 as watching TV; 10 is gasping for air (you can't go any further). Daily walks, for example, are 5 or even 6-6.5 sometimes. Twice a week, crank it up to 7, 8, or 9 on a steep hill for a few minutes. Now you're burning serious calories and building real aerobic fitness through interval training.
Your heart beats approximately 60-80 times per minute at rest, 100,000 times a day, more than 30 million times per year, and about 2.5 billion times in a 70-year lifetime! Every beat of your heart sends a volume of blood (called stroke volume -- more about that later), along with oxygen and many other life-sustaining nutrients, circulating through your body. The average healthy adult heart pumps about 5 liters of blood per minute.
Classes are great for people who like to exercise with others, who like to dance, who like music and rhythm, who want the extra motivation and energy that an instructor and class provides, and who prefer the structure and schedule of a regular class. Classes, equipment, and videos are all great ways to stay fit and healthy, but if you're limited by injury or other conditions, then aerobic exercise chair workouts may be just the thing (see resources for online vendors). The instructor leads you through a workout in a chair and it's great exercise. You might not need chair exercise, but you may have a parent or friend who does. Exercise videos and DVDs make great gifts!
Walking is a low-cost and effective form of exercise. However, the wrong type of shoe or walking action can cause foot or shin pain, blisters and injuries to soft tissue. Make sure your shoes are comfortable, with appropriate heel and arch supports. Take light, easy steps and make sure your heel touches down before your toes. Whenever possible, walk on grass rather than concrete to help absorb the impact.
“With that being said, walking is a really good form of exercise and can help you reach your fitness and weight-loss goals. As a lifelong track athlete, who has marveled at race walkers (check out the Olympic walkers on YouTube!), I don’t scoff at walking,” says Ford. “In fact, walking is the suggested workout over running for many people. For example, those with knee, ankle and back problems and also for people who are overweight to obese. Walking is a lower impact exercise and can be done for longer periods of time.”
The research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress, followed 69 people between the ages of 30 and 60. Those who engaged in daily moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk or jog, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and strength training experienced anti-aging benefits that could add an additional three to seven years to your life.1
Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment, can be done at any time of day and can be performed at your own pace. You can get out and walk without worrying about the risks associated with some more vigorous forms of exercise. Walking is also a great form of physical activity for people who are overweight, elderly, or who haven’t exercised in a long time.
Can you up those numbers? The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn, no matter the activity—that’s because it takes more energy to move more weight. If you’re specifically looking to up calorie burn, adding a 20-pound weighted vest would up your calorie burn to 8.7 and 15.1 per minute for walking and running, respectively. It’s simple physics: “The majority of calories burned in running [or walking] comes from supporting body weight while moving up and down,” says Hunter. “With more weight, there will be a greater energy cost in doing this due to a greater gravitational force.”
Whatever makes you feel comfortable is the easy answer. There is no need for fancy spandex or workout clothes, unless that’s what you like. As you start moving farther and faster, you may want to get dedicated fitness walking clothes that wick away sweat or allow you to layer for different weather conditions, but for a beginning fitness walker, comfort trumps everything else.
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