Wellness Fitness Cardio Workouts The Benefits of Walking—And 3 Workout Plans To Get You Going Putting one foot in front of the other carries some serious benefits. By Kelly Dinardo , Hannah Harper, Hannah Harper Instagram Hannah Harper is the associate editor for Health.com. Previously, she was an assistant editor and prior to that, editorial assistant for Health Magazine. health's editorial guidelines and Amy Schlinger Amy Schlinger Instagram Website Amy Schlinger is a skilled reporter, writer, and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health, fitness, wellness, nutrition, and lifestyle topics. Amy is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), and is certified in Kettlebell Training. health's editorial guidelines Updated on October 26, 2022 Medically reviewed by Suzanne Fisher, RD, LDN Medically reviewed by Suzanne Fisher, RD, LDN Suzanne Fisher, RD, is the founding owner of Fisher Nutrition Systems. learn more Share Tweet Pin Email There's a widespread belief that if your workout doesn't make you sweat through your sports bra, it's not worth doing. However, that's not the case. Gentler, low-impact workouts can be just as vital as hard-core exercise—and that's especially true of a good old-fashioned daily walk. Our bodies crave movement every day. "Walking is an accessible way of [staying active], of keeping the blood flowing, utilizing energy, and stretching our muscles," explained biomechanist Katy Bowman, MS, cocreator of the online program Walking Well. "Walking is the daily servings of vegetables in our fitness diet." Getty Images And when you want to push yourself, you can get your heart rate up by climbing hills or following an interval regimen. Adding a challenge can turn your walk into the moderate-to-intense activity our bodies also need each week. Here's more about walking, its benefits, and how you can get started. What Are Some Benefits of Walking? Walking has some significant health perks: Just one moderate or intense walk may be able to help with sleep and anxiety. Additionally, walking may help us stay mentally sharp (e.g., in memory, learning, and thinking). In one study, researchers reported that just 40 minutes of brisk walking three times a week was enough to improve signaling in the brain's white matter, the deterioration of which is associated with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Walking may also alleviate some hormone-related symptoms that can crop up midlife. A 2020 review revealed that 91% of 77 different walking programs improved at least one menopause-related health issue. What's more, walking can also be helpful in other ways, such as: Decreasing blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and LDL (bad) cholesterolImproving balance and heart healthIncreasing metabolism and HDL (good) cholesterolHelping weight management Therefore, if walking isn't already a part of your workout regimen and it's accessible for you, you should add it to your routine. How To Get Your Walking Routine Started With walking benefits in mind, you may consider the walking speed necessary to achieve those benefits. For example, if you're wondering how fast "brisk" is, "[the word] is intentionally vague because every body is different," said Bowman. Therefore, move at a pace that raises your heart rate but doesn't leave you gasping for breath, suggested Bowman. That might be anywhere from a 12-minute to a 20-minute mile (or 3–4.5 MPH on a treadmill at a 1.0 incline). If you have a heart rate monitor, aim for between 50% and 85% of your maximum heart rate according to your age. Counting steps can be a way to measure your walking too. Though walking 10,000 steps has been recommended before, the sweet spot for a long, healthy life may be closer to 7,000 steps. Researchers found that people who took more than 10,000 steps a day did not have any greater reductions in mortality risks than those taking at least 7,000 steps daily. If you're not into using fitness trackers or tracking steps in general, budget a half hour a day, suggested Jewel Bush, chief of external affairs for GirlTrek, a nonprofit that inspires Black girls and women to go for daily walks for self-care. "Thirty minutes is the baseline amount of exercise that produces benefits," said Bush. The Apple Watch Has a New Feature That Will Inspire You to Walk More—These Are My Feelings After Trying It On top of that, the recommended amount of moderately intense exercise is 150 minutes weekly—which you could achieve by walking 30 minutes at least five days a week. If you're embarking on a new fitness regimen, a 30-minute walk is a "great entry point," said Bush. "You don't need special equipment. You don't need to join a gym. And we find that after a while, women who have been walking for 30 minutes wonder, 'What if I trained for a 5K, or changed my diet, or went for a hike?' It's a gateway." Walking is also a whole-body activity, said Bowman. "When your legs move, there's a reciprocal arm swing." You can work different joints and muscles by varying your terrain. And walking is weight-bearing, meaning it's good for your bones. 3 Ways To Help You Start Walking Below are three different ways to work out and ensure you take a walk—with or without equipment. Put a Little Pep in Your Step Hop on the treadmill to do this walking interval workout from Raj Hathiramani, RRCA-certified run coach for workout app Aaptiv and Mile High Run Club in New York City. It alternates between leisurely and brisk paces, helping you adapt your efforts physically and mentally to build endurance. Four-Week Plan Like planning when it comes to fitness? Then try a monthly walking challenge. You can use the plan to help you set a specific walking goal or to figure out the best times to add walking into your daily or weekly schedule if you have a busy one. Walk From Home You can step it up from your living room with this workout from Celina Pompeani, ACE-certified trainer and fitness leader for the Walk at Home program based in Pittsburgh. Just pick a playlist with the recommended beats per minute to keep your pace and give this routine a go. The basic moves include walking, side steps, kicks, and knee lifts. Warm-up: 5 minutes, pace: 138 beats per minute (bpm) 60 seconds: Walk in place at a warm-up pace30 seconds: Side steps (step right and bring left foot to touch, then step left and bring right foot to touch)45 seconds: Walk30 seconds: Kicks (straight out)45 seconds: Walk30 seconds: Knee lifts (alternating, bringing knee close to chest)60 seconds: Walk First fast walk segment: 9 minutes, brisk pace: 145 bpm 30 seconds: Power walk (pick up the pace and swing your arms)45 seconds: Double side steps (2 steps right, 2 left)15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Kicks15 seconds: Walk45 seconds: Walk forward 2 steps, back 2 steps15 seconds: Walk45 seconds: Knee lifts15 seconds: Walk45 seconds: Side steps15 seconds: Walk45 seconds: Skaters (jump to the right, bringing left leg behind right, then jump to the left, putting right leg behind left)15 seconds: Walk45 seconds: Double side steps15 seconds: Walk15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Kickbacks (bring foot toward butt)30 seconds: Walk Second fast walk segment: 10 Minutes, brisk pace: 145 bpm 15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Walk up 4 steps, back 4 steps15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Kicks15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Side steps15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Double side steps15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Walk up 4 steps, back 4 steps15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Kicks15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Double side steps15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Walk up 4 steps, back 4 steps15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Kickbacks15 seconds: Power walk45 seconds: Side steps Cool down: 5 minutes, slow pace: 128 bpm 1 minute: Walk in place and roll shoulders1 minute: Mini side steps1 minute: Walk2 minutes: Stretch A Quick Review Walking can help you stay healthy by helping your blood sugar, anxiety, sleep, memory, and weight management, among other aspects of health. Ways to gain health benefits from walking include monitoring your heart rate, counting your steps, or just making sure you try walking for at least 30 minutes daily. You can also decide to plan out your walking schedule and take time to walk on a treadmill or somewhere outside. However you decide to walk, know it is one of the easiest ways to work on increasing your physical activity and improving your health. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why walk? why not! Mendez Colmenares A, Voss MW, Fanning J, et al. White matter plasticity in healthy older adults: The effects of aerobic exercise. NeuroImage. 2021;239:118305. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118305 Sydora BC, Turner C, Malley A, et al. Can walking exercise programs improve health for women in menopause transition and postmenopausal? Findings from a scoping review. Menopause. 2020;27(8):952-963. doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000001554 American Diabetes Association. The benefits of walking. MedlinePlus. Give your heart a workout. Paluch AE, Gabriel KP, Fulton JE, et al. Steps per day and all-cause mortality in middle-aged adults in the coronary artery risk development in young adults study. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(9):e2124516. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.24516 Centers for Disease Control. Benefits of physical activity.