You might find ways to incorporate walking into your daily routine if you can't find the time to go walking for the sake of it. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or the lift; walk to the shops if they're close by; if you visit a friend who doesn't live too far away, leave the car at home. It's surprising how much difference it can make when you regularly climb a few flights of stairs and take frequent short walks.
You ought to walk as if you’re wearing very long diamond earrings, and you want everybody to be able to see the diamonds, rather than having them sitting on your collar bones. When your head is forward, your shoulder girdle also rolls forward, which gives you an unappealing hunch, but more importantly, encourages the shoulder joint, which is a ball-and-socket joint, to behave like a hinge joint. This makes your arms as good as useless in the business of moving you forward, but also stiffens the shoulders, which makes the spine rigid. The spine should be able to rotate. I don’t know why, but I accept as a general principle that if your skeleton is capable of a range of movements that you never do, that’s a bad thing.
AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS Find an Orthopaedist program on this website.
Physical therapist, Col. Pauline Potts and Dr. Kenneth Cooper, both of the United States Air Force, advocated the concept of aerobic exercise. In the 1960s, Cooper started research into preventive medicine. He conducted the first extensive research on aerobic exercise on over 5,000 U.S. Air Force personnel[13][14] after becoming intrigued by the belief that exercise can preserve one's health. Cooper published his ideas in a 1968 book titled, "Aerobics". In 1970, he created his own institute (the Cooper Institute) for non-profit research and education devoted to preventive medicine and published a mass-market version of his book "The New Aerobics" in 1979. Cooper encouraged millions into becoming active and is now known as the "father of aerobics".[15][16] Aerobics developed as an exercise form in the 1970s and became popular worldwide in the 1980s after the release of Jane Fonda's exercise videos in 1982.[17][18]
Every session of aerobic exercise should include a warm-up and cool-down. The warm-up period should not include static stretching, but should instead be a gradual increase in pace and intensity of the exercise. This allows for the body to increase blood flow to the muscles, and decreases the likelihood of a muscle or joint injury. The warm-up should last between 5 and 10 minutes. The cool-down session should last a similar amount of time as the warm-up, with the pace gradually decreasing. Stretching exercises would be appropriate after aerobic exercise.
Most of us who exercise regularly understand that exercise can elevate our mood. There have been a number of studies investigating the effects of exercise on depression. In one of the most recent studies, it was shown that three to five days per week for 12 weeks of biking or treadmill for approximately 30 minutes per workout reduced scores on a depression questionnaire by 47%. It's not a substitute for therapy in a depression that causes someone to be unable to function (in which case medication and/or psychotherapy may be necessary), but for milder forms of depression, the evidence is persuasive that it can help.
Getting blood pumping around your system and raising your heart rate provides a perfect workout for your heart and circulation system, and regular walks can even reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Through lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the bad cholesterol) and increasing levels of its high-density alternative (HDL, the good cholesterol), you can keep your blood pressure in check. And by helping prevent and control high blood pressure you can reduce your risk of a stroke.
But just because it isn’t as time- or energy-efficient as running doesn’t mean you should never look to walking as exercise. Whether you’re running or walking, you can reduce your risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and improve your cardiovascular health, according to data from the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study.

Walking is one of the most rewarding lifelong activities you can choose. While it may not be a huge calorie burner — the average person burns about 100 calories or so per mile — adding more mileage to your day can make a big difference in weight control. According to Harvard Health Watch, one 2009 study found the average person gains about 2.2 pounds a year during middle age. However, over 15 years of research, the study found that individuals who walked regularly gained significantly less weight than those who didn’t.
myDrReferences 1. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand: The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998; 30: 975-91. Available at: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/1998/06000/ACSM_Position_Stand__The__Recommended_Quantity_and.32.aspx
When running isn't in the cards, walking with added weight might be your next best bet for an effective workout. Research shows that walking on the treadmill while wearing a weighted vest can increase the metabolic costs and relative exercise intensity.The effect of weighted vest walking on metabolic responses and ground reaction forces. Puthoff ML, Darter BJ, Nielsen DH. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2006, Jun.;38(4):0195-9131. Similarly, increasing the incline on the treadmill makes for a more effective walking workout. A study showed that walking at a slow speed (1.7 mph) on a treadmill at a six-degree incline can be an effective weight management strategy for obese individuals, and help reduce risk of injury to lower extremity joints.Energetics and biomechanics of inclined treadmill walking in obese adults. Ehlen KA, Reiser RF, Browning RC. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2011, Oct.;43(7):1530-0315. And picking up the pace slightly almost always helps. One study found speed walkers had a decreased risk of mortality over their slower counterparts.The relationship of walking intensity to total and cause-specific mortality. Results from the National Walkers' Health Study. Williams PT, Thompson PD. PloS one, 2013, Nov.;8(11):1932-6203.
myDrReferences 1. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand: The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998; 30: 975-91. Available at: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/1998/06000/ACSM_Position_Stand__The__Recommended_Quantity_and.32.aspx
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.
It doesn't take all that much aerobic exercise to accrue lots of fitness and health benefits. There are two physical activity recommendations to choose from in the United States. One is the Surgeon General's "lifestyle" recommendation, where you can accumulate activity and incorporate it into your day (a nice way to save time for busy people), and then there's the formal "workout" recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
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