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Walking as Aerobic Exercise

Topic Overview

Walking is a popular aerobic activity. It is easy to do, you don't need special equipment, and it can be done almost anywhere. To get aerobic benefit, you must walk briskly—fast enough to make your pulse and breathing increase, but not so fast that you can't talk comfortably.

Some people start by walking daily during lunch or after work. Others start more gradually, with a 10- to 30-minute walk every other day. You can add up exercise time over the course of a day or week. Walking 10 minutes, 3 times a day is roughly equivalent to walking 30 minutes, once a day. Build up your walking routine bit by bit, and aim for at least 2½ hours a week of brisk walking.

Increasing your walking

You can increase your walking in simple ways. These suggestions can get you started, and you can probably think of more ways.

Add a few extra steps to your daily activities:

  • Park farther than usual from your workplace (or get off the bus or subway before your stop).
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator for one or two floors.
  • Take a lap around the outside of the grocery store before going in.

Walk instead of drive for short trips. Examples may include walking to:

  • Work.
  • School.
  • A friend's house.
  • A place for lunch.
  • A nearby store for small purchases.

Find a new area to walk in. Allow yourself some extra time in case this walk takes longer than your usual route. Because new areas may pose some safety concerns, try a new area only during daylight, and choose well-populated areas, such as:

  • Around your neighborhood. See some places you rarely see from your car. Meet some neighbors.
  • Around a whole park. Try pathless areas.
  • A mall.

Walk at various times of day. Use "transition times" (times between activities when you don't have to be anywhere) to get out and walk, such as:

  • After work, when you usually might sit in front of the television.
  • First thing in the morning. See a part of the day you usually might miss.
  • During your lunch break. Ask a coworker to join you for a walk.

For more information, see the topic Fitness.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Last Revised June 5, 2012

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