Anyway, Hall is still demonstrating: “And some people walk like this,” she concludes, doing a kind of kick out from the knee, like a novice Nazi about to flunk goose-stepping school. All modern scribes of the walk are united on this one thing: it is not supposed to be fast. Walking is, as the philosopher Frédéric Gros described, “the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has ever been found”. If you want to go faster, choose a different transport; maybe skates. The American author Rebecca Solnit wrote in Wanderlust: A History Of Walking: “I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought or thoughtfulness.” But Joanna Hall goes fast, at 4.4mph – “beyond that, it starts to look snatched”. One could easily conclude that she has lost the poetry of the walk, but this would be quite wrong. When you start listening to your toes, your ankles, your hips, your chin, you are just making a different kind of poem.
There are two physical activity guidelines in the Unites States. The first, the Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health, is a lifestyle recommendation. That is, you can modify it to fit into your daily routine and activities of daily living. The recommendation is that all adults should accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, if not all days of the week. The key words are "accumulate" and "moderate-intensity." Accumulate means that you can do 10-15 minutes at a time and repeat that a couple of times throughout the day; for example, 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes around dinner. Moderate intensity is equivalent to feeling "warm and slightly out of breath" when you do it. Recently there has been some controversy about the effectiveness of this guideline and its benefits. At the moment the recommendation stands, but we may hear more about it in the not-too-distant future.
Some of the most interesting and overwhelming evidence supporting the need to be physically active is from the research being conducted at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Kenneth Cooper, known as the "father of aerobics," founded the Cooper Clinic in the early 1970s to investigate the effects of physical activity and fitness on health and longevity and to help people develop healthy lifestyles.
Walking programs have generally been studied for effectiveness. The Ottawa Panel recently concluded that aerobic walking combined with stretching and strengthening exercises, education, or behavioral programs is recommended to improve pain relief, functional status, and the quality of life of adult individuals with OA.32 Cycling is another form of aerobic exercise that can be beneficial. Low-intensity cycling was shown to be as effective as high-intensity cycling in improving function and gait, decreasing pain, and increasing aerobic capacity in subjects with knee OA.36 Cycling should be considered for those with arthritis who may have difficulty with a walking program because of joint pain.
The extra effort and calorie burn are partly the result of the faster pace. Because you walk faster, you cover more distance in less time. The farther and faster you go, the more calories you burn. Simple as that. But fitness walking is an effective exercise for another reason, too: You use more muscles. Your hips and butt get more into the act. And, as a result of your powerful arm swing, so does your upper body.
Which one you choose is a personal choice. They are not intended to compete with each other but rather to provide options and maybe even complement each other. For instance, the Surgeon General's recommendation may be more practical for individuals who are unwilling, or unable, to adopt the more formal ACSM recommendation. Of course, there's no downside to working out regularly with aerobic exercise and also becoming more physically active as per the Surgeon General (take more stairs, mow the lawn by hand, park far away from the store and walk), so combining them might be a good decision.
Leslie Sansone is America’s number-one walk expert and creator of the Walk at Home program. She believes that our bodies were made to move, and we can walk our way to health and wellness. She contributes her time, expertise and financial support to health organizations including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetic Association and Muscular Dystrophy Association. She was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame in 2014. Her newest DVD is “Just Walk: The Tone Every Zone Walk.”
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.
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
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The question of BP lowering with aerobic exercise in type 2 diabetics has been studied. In the Early Activity in Type 2 Diabetes (ACTID) trial, 593 newly diagnosed diabetics were randomized to use of a pedometer in a program that included intense counseling or standard or intense dietary advice.46 There was no difference in SBP or DBP after 6 or 12 months, even though the participants using pedometers increased their steps by 17% on average. Whether the exercise was merely of too low a “dose” to be effective is unclear. There may be some male-female differences in BP response to aerobic exercise, with women exhibiting BP lowering with resistance compared with aerobic exercise and men responding similarly to both types of exercise.47 The 2013 AHA Scientific Statement recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per day most days of the week.2 The authors assigned dynamic aerobic exercise a Class I, level of evidence A recommendation in those for whom it is not contraindicated. Our review of the evidence since 2013, as well as that from another group, confirm these recommendations.41,48 Whether or not high versus moderate (or interval) intensity training is optimal for BP-lowering as well as other aspects of the dose-response effect (i.e., ideal duration of cumulative exercise per week) and the potential impact of different types of aerobic activity requires further investigation.
No study has been more conclusive about the role of lifestyle changes (diet and exercise) in preventing diabetes than the Diabetes Prevention Program. It was a study of more than 3,000 individuals at high risk for diabetes who lost 12-15 pounds and walked 150 minutes per week (five 30-minute walks per day) for three years. They reduced their risk of diabetes by 58%. That's significant considering there are 1 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed each year. Aerobic exercise can also improve insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body doesn't use insulin properly, and this condition can occur in individuals who do and do not have diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that helps the cells in the body convert glucose (sugar) to energy. Many studies have shown the positive effects of exercise on insulin resistance. In one, 28 obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes did aerobic exercise for 16 weeks, three times per week, for 45-60 minutes, and their insulin sensitivity improved by 20%.

Whatever your preferred exercise intensity, it’s also important to choose activities that you enjoy and will stick with over the long term. Walking, biking, hiking, dancing, and gardening are all great forms of aerobic exercise that you can easily integrate into your day. After all, aerobic exercise can greatly improve your health even if you perform it in shorter segments throughout the day.


Cancer has claimed over a million lives. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the causes of cancer, and this is where walking every day can help you. Scientists have found that walking can help in weight loss, thereby reducing the risk of cancer. Walking has been found to be helpful for those undergoing cancer treatment by reducing the side effects of chemotherapy (6). It can also lower the risk of breast cancer.
One final note. Spin class is interval training. It's done at gyms on special spin cycles with an instructor who barks out orders to increase the intensity and then slow down to catch your breath. It's addictive, and people who do it regularly swear by it. You should already be doing some aerobic exercise and be reasonably conditioned before you try it, but I recommend it if you're looking for one of the toughest workouts around.
Many people aim for a daily goal of 10,000 steps (or about 5 miles)—and an industry of fitness tracking devices has emerged to support them—but that magic number didn’t originate from scientific research, says John Schuna Jr., Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at Oregon State College of Public Health. “It was first used in a Japanese marketing effort associated with one of the first commercial pedometers.” The device was called “manpo-kei,” which literally means "10,000 steps meter" in Japanese. 
The general rule for increasing aerobic activity is 10% per week. Interestingly, there's no evidence to suggest that a 10% increase is the safest and most effective amount of time to increase, but that's the rule of thumb and it seems to work pretty well. So, if you're walking for 20 minutes then the next increase ought to be two minutes for the following week. The bottom line though is to listen to your body. If you find that increasing by 10% is very easy, then go ahead and try a little more. But if you find that you are tired for hours after your workout, or chronically sore or achy from your workouts, then you know you need to cut back to 10% increases. Learn how to listen to your body and everything should be OK.
Add strengthening exercises to your walking workout to build muscle. Even though strength training does not burn considerable calories, it replaces your fat with lean muscle mass. Your body works harder to sustain your muscle mass, raising your resting metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day. Invest in light hand weights or wrist weights and pump your hands as you walk. Build lower body muscles by lifting your knees high during part of your walk. Stop every five minutes and do a series of squats or lunges.
Update: the authors removed a sentence about the human body operating on physiology rather than physics. This sentence was in reference to 500kcal exercise not directly relating to the number of grams in 500kcal of fat as determined by typical bomb calorimetry. This is due to the various ways individual physiology treats energy intake and energy expenditure. The authors decided to remove the sentence since it lacked the additional context behind the statement.
Being active has been shown to have a positive effect on the way our brains work, and with the latest figures showing dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80 it’s worth bearing in mind that regular exercise reduces that risk by up to 40 per cent. What’s more, older people who walk six miles (9.65 kilometres) or more per week can avoid brain shrinkage, preserving the memory for longer.
After World War II, non-organized, individualistic, health-oriented physical and recreational activities, such as jogging, began to become popular.[9] The Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans, developed by Dr. Bill Orban and published in 1961, helped to launch modern fitness culture.[10][11] There was a running boom in the 1970s, inspired by the Olympics.[12]

As we age, our risk of unsightly varicose veins increases—it's just not fair. However, walking is a proven way to prevent those unsightly lines from developing, says Luis Navarro, MD, founder, and director of The Vein Treatment Center in New York City. "The venous system includes a circulatory section known as 'the second heart,' which is formed by muscles, veins, and valves located in our calf and foot," he explains. "This system works to push blood back up to the heart and lungs—and walking strengthens this secondary circulatory system by strengthening and preserving leg muscle, which boosts healthy blood flow." If you already suffer from varicose veins, daily walking can help ease related swelling and restlessness in your legs, says Dr. Navarro. "Also, if you are genetically predisposed to have varicose and/or spider veins, walking daily can help delay the onset."

Before starting a walking program, check with your doctor if you have a chronic medical condition or if you have had a recent injury. But don't assume that you aren't able to start exercise walking if you do have medical issues. Exercise walking can help control disease progression and relieve symptoms in people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and many people with arthritis or other musculoskeletal problems will experience symptom relief from a medically supervised exercise walking routine. Exercise is an important part of all weight-loss programs that will help with many chronic medical conditions.


A brisk walk provides us with the best source of natural energy. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to each and every cell in the body, helping you feel more alert and alive. Regular walking should mean you sleep better too. It also serves to bring stiff joints back to life and ease muscle tension. We can all feel sluggish at times, but you can help break that cycle through walking.
How much good does it do you to get up and walk for a few minutes? Don't be discouraged from walking if you think the number of calories burned is too small. The benefits go beyond burning calories. Simply reducing your sitting time will help keep your muscles, joints, blood circulation, and bones in good working order. By walking more and sitting less throughout the day, you'll burn more calories, reduce your health risks, and do your body good. 

That’s because the body requires energy to recover from exercise. “The greater the intensity and volume, the more calories will be burned after the exercise is completed,” explains Iain Hunter, a professor of exercise sciences at Brigham Young University. When exercising, you burn some of your stored fuels; replenishing those stores takes energy. Your body uses energy to repair any microdamage from exercise as well. Plus, “along with caloric expenditure, there are many other benefits to higher intensity exercise, such as increased bone density, improved strength and endurance, more resilient cartilage and other tissues that degrade over time, and psychological health.”

The technical definition of aerobic exercise is “any form of exercise or activity that uses the aerobic metabolism — meaning oxygen is heavily involved in the cellular reactions that provide the body with the energy necessary to perform activity,” explains Michael Jonesco, DO, an assistant professor of internal and sports medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. “You’re making yourself more efficient at delivering oxygen to the rest of the body.”


But aside from weight loss, walking has definite pros.Walking versus running for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus risk reduction. Williams PT, Thompson PD. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 2013, Apr.;33(5):1524-4636. Researchers looked at data from the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study and found that people who expended the same amount of calories saw many of the same health benefits. Regardless of whether they were walking or running, individuals saw a reduced risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and improved better cardiovascular health.
This one may seem obvious, but it's certainly a happy benefit for those who start walking regularly, says Dr. Jampolis. "As you continue to walk, you may notice your pants begin to fit more loosely around your midsection, even if the number on the scale isn't moving much," she says. "That's because regular walking can help improve your body's response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat." Ariel Iasevoli, a personal trainer at Crunch gyms in New York City, adds that walking every day is one of the most effective low-impact ways to mobilize fat and positively alter body composition. "Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we get older," says Iasevoli. The best part? You don't have to slog it out on a treadmill at the gym to see these benefits. "One of my clients reduced her body fat by 2% in just one month by walking home from work each day, which was just under a mile," she says.
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