Walking doesn't burn calories as quickly as a number of other aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming or riding a bicycle. Walking, however, is a low-impact exercise that is ideal for a wide range of people, including those who contend with joint pain and aren't physically able to perform more up-tempo exercises. If you choose to use walking as your main source of aerobic exercise, set your weekly schedule to allow for a minimum of 2.5 hours of walking.


Your heart rate increases in direct correlation with the intensity of the exercise. Heart rate levels can vary significantly from one person to another based on fitness level, genetics, environment, and exercise tolerance. If you wish to train based on heart rate, contact your health care provider to determine what the appropriate range is for you. Some medications, most often blood pressure drugs, control heart rate, making it impossible to determine exercise intensity in this way. Ask your physician to determine if you are on any of these medications.

‘Aerobic’ exercise refers to exercise that requires the consumption of substantially more oxygen than at rest. It is of a light to moderate intensity, and can be undertaken for a prolonged duration (many minutes to several hours) without excessive fatigue. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, swimming or cycling at a steady pace. Another example would be dancing or ‘aerobics’ classes.Regular exercise causes your body to make adjustments that result in improved health and physical functioning. Continuing with regular exercise enables your body to maintain these benefits. Regularly doing the right types of exercise at the correct intensity, and for an appropriate duration, results in the most benefit.The benefits of aerobic exercise can be broadly categorised as either ‘fitness’ (physical capacity) or ‘health’. Fitness and health are linked, and most forms of aerobic exercise will help you achieve both.Fitness — including increased cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance (stamina)Regular aerobic exercise improves your cardiovascular fitness by increasing your capacity to use oxygen. It does this by increasing your heart’s capacity to send blood (and hence oxygen) to the muscles. This is mainly achieved through an increase in the size of the heart’s pumping chambers (ventricles), which means that your heart doesn’t have to beat as fast to deliver the same amount of blood. This is evident in a slower resting heart rate, and a slower heart rate for the same exercise intensity.As you get ‘fitter’, particular activities (such as walking or jogging at a specified speed) will become easier.You’ll also be able to undertake the activity for longer (known as endurance), and/or at a higher intensity (e.g. jogging at a faster speed). The same applies to activities such as cycling or swimming, but it should be noted that fitness tends to be specific. So jogging will provide only limited benefits to your swimming fitness and vice versa. However, a side-benefit you may notice is that you also have increased stamina for the everyday activities of life, not just for exercise.Other fitness improvements occur in the exercising muscles, and are specific to those muscles being used in the mode of exercise (e.g. walking, running, cycling, or swimming). These include an increased capacity for the muscles to take up and use the additional oxygen being delivered by the heart.Reduced risk of certain health problemsRegular aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. It can lower blood pressure and improve your blood cholesterol by reducing the levels of LDL-cholesterol (so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol) and increasing the amount of HDL-cholesterol (so-called ‘good’ cholesterol). It can also reduce anxiety, stress and depression, as well as instilling a general sense of well-being. Regular aerobic exercise has even been shown to have the potential to increase your lifespan.Low-impact aerobic exercise such as swimming is valuable for improving general health and fitness in people who have arthritis or other conditions that limit their ability to do weight-bearing exercise.Importantly, whereas fitness tends to be quite specific, many health benefits can be gained from any form of aerobic exercise. Additionally, the health gains can be achieved from relatively moderate amounts of exercise — moving from a lifestyle involving no exercise to one that involves some exercise can lead to substantial improvements in health.Weight controlAerobic exercise burns up energy (calories). Regular sessions of 30 to 60 minutes of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise (at around 55 to 70 per cent of maximum heart rate) can be an important part of a weight loss or weight management programme that is also mindful of the energy (calories) consumed as food.However, many of the health benefits associated with aerobic exercise occur independently of weight loss. Evidence from large studies has shown that active, overweight people do not have a greater risk of many diseases than inactive people who are not overweight. From a health perspective, it is of course best to be both active and a healthy weight, but if weight reduction is a problem, it doesn’t mean that the exercise is having no benefit.Improved bone and muscle healthYour risk of osteoporosis (excessive bone thinning as you age) can be reduced by regular weight-bearing aerobic exercise such as brisk walking.By stimulating the growth of tiny blood vessels in your muscle tissues, aerobic exercise has also been shown to lessen the pain experienced by people who have fibromyalgia or chronic low back pain, as the oxygen supply to the muscles is improved and waste products are removed more efficiently.Social benefitsRegular aerobic exercise can have social benefits too, whether you walk with a friend, play tennis with workmates, or form a social cycling team. Exercising with friends can also be the most effective way of ensuring that you do it regularly.Aerobic exercise precautionsAs with any form of exercise, be aware of over-exercising, either by doing aerobic exercise too hard, for too long or too often. This approach can lead to injury, and abandoning of your fitness programme. Remember to build up gradually from your current activity level, and not to progress too rapidly. If you are new to regular aerobic exercise, several weeks of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise are usually advised before introducing more vigorous aerobic exercise sessions.If you have existing health problems, are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, or have muscle, bone or joint injuries, check with your doctor before undertaking an aerobic exercise programme. Also, men aged over 40 years and women aged over 50 years who have not exercised regularly in the recent past should check with a doctor before undertaking a programme of vigorous physical activity. Last Reviewed: 11 January 2010
One way to ensure success is to build some competition into your fastest walks. Or train for a “running” race where you start in the back and don’t worry about your time compared to those around you. “You don’t need to try to win,” Fenton advises. “Merely being part of a racing environment with large numbers of other fitness-minded individuals will guarantee that you get a good workout.” Most runners consider walkers their equals, regardless of when they cross the finish line.

This is a good aerobic workout that also boosts upper body strength — and helps you let off steam. Boxing classes are widely available in many gyms. Some classes involve sparring with a partner — you take it in turns to hold a pad or pads while the other person punches them while wearing boxing mitts. Others involve no mitts or pads, just air punching and other moves that simulate boxing training. You can also use a punching bag either at the gym or in your own home.
“There are many reasons to walk for exercise,” says Ann Green, M.S., past heptathlon world athlete, yoga teacher and fitness studio owner. “Walking improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood, creates less stress on joints and reduces pain, can prevent weight gain, reduce risk for cancer and chronic disease, improve endurance, circulation, and posture, and the list goes on…”
Long walks help you clear your head, pace your thoughts and calm you down, figuratively speaking. The benefits of walking seem so obvious that they're rarely discussed. We forget how it's great exercise that also helps you tone your legs, shed the extra weight and doesn't need you to have an exclusive gym membership. It quickens your heart beat, circulating more blood and oxygen to your muscles and your organs, including the brain. Experts suggest that brisk walking for 30 minutes at a moderate speed can help you burn 150 to 200 calories.
If you currently praise coffee for keeping your digestive system going strong, get ready to start thanking your morning walk instead. That's because a regular walking routine can greatly improve gastric mobility, says Tara Alaichamy, DPT, a physical therapist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. "One of the very first things an abdominal surgery patient is required to do is to walk because it utilizes core and abdominal muscles, encouraging movement in our GI system," she says. (Check out these 7 things your poop says about your health.)
One program created by Dr. Hiroshi Nose and colleagues at the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan consists of repeated intervals of three minutes of fast walking, aiming for an exertion level of about six or seven on a scale of one to 10, followed by three minutes of slow strolling. As reported by The New York Times:13
Studies have shown that (1) microbial community composition may play an important role in xenobiotic processing in soil and other soil processes (Cavigelli and Robertson, 2000; Balser et al., 2002) and (2) the microbial communities residing at depth are not simply diluted analogs of the surface microbial communities, but exhibit considerable differentiation (Ghiorse and Wilson, 1988; Fritze et al., 2000; Blume et al., 2002). In fact, the microbial communities in the soil subsurface may function differently from those at different depths. Aerobic microbes predominated the surface soil or soil rich in moisture and oxygen, whereas anaerobic microbes predominated the deep soil (Li et al., 2014a; Fierera et al., 2003; Blume et al., 2002).
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]
Aerobic exercise involves regular body part (e.g., arms or legs) movements that increase workload on the cardiovascular system. It is convenient and useful to think of the intensity of aerobic exercises in metabolic equivalents, or METs. One MET represents the amount of energy used at rest, and two METs is twice that much energy expenditure per unit of time, and so on. Aerobic exercise is widely recommended in contemporary guidelines. However, guidelines also indicate that exercise regimens are contraindicated in patients with unstable cardiovascular conditions, including but not limited to uncontrolled severe hypertension (BP ≥ 180/110 mm Hg). Conditions under which stress testing should be performed before initiation of an exercise regimen have been described.37
If you haven’t been active for a while, you may find walking is an easy way to get started. But it will also be important to keep your motivation. Begin slowly and gradually increase how much walking you do. You might find it helps to set yourself goals. There are lots of apps that can count your steps, or you could use a pedometer, so your goals can be specific and measurable.

And walking isn't all sports shoes and parks. During the day, you can also get up from your desk every hour or so and walk around your office or block for two whole minutes. The benefits of intense exercise are undeniable, of course, but even a few steps daily can take you a long way.It's obvious that regular walking helps you lose weight but you must also know that the speed at which you walk could make all the difference. Researchers from the University of Virginia found that women who did three shorter but fast-paced walks in a week lost five times more belly fat than those who strolled five times a week. And that's not all, high intensity exercise also helps you lose three times more visceral fat which is the one wrapped around your organs like liver and kidneys and has often been linked to heart disease and diabetes.Over the last few years, researchers have spent a lot of time and resources to figure out how walking helps, how swift or slow you should walk and it helps bring a certain kind of rhythm to your life that no other form of exercise can.

Your heart rate increases in direct correlation with the intensity of the exercise. Heart rate levels can vary significantly from one person to another based on fitness level, genetics, environment, and exercise tolerance. If you wish to train based on heart rate, contact your health care provider to determine what the appropriate range is for you. Some medications, most often blood pressure drugs, control heart rate, making it impossible to determine exercise intensity in this way. Ask your physician to determine if you are on any of these medications.


The thinking has also changed somewhat on whether there’s a threshold minimum workout duration required to reap cardiovascular health benefits from aerobic activity. HHS’s new physical activity guidelines eliminated the long-standing recommendation that exercise had to last at least 10 minutes to count toward your daily total. (4) The new guidelines emphasize that small bouts of activity throughout the day can add up to big health benefits.
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