It’s great to get your heart pumping and weave HIIT classes, boxing, and power yoga flows into your fitness routine, But know this — exercise does not need to be intense to be effective! More is not always more — in fact, low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio workouts are some of the most underrated forms of exercise. Enter: walking for fitness. Yep, we said it. Walking is one of the most effective and underrated exercises! Walking is free, can be performed anytime, anywhere, is inclusive of all fitness levels, and it’s highly effective! From benefiting heart health to reducing stress, there are so many reasons to include walking fitness in your regime. So, if you’ve discounted walking as a form of exercise or written it off as a mere form of transportation, it’s time to reevaluate!
Ahead, learn the benefits of walking for fitness and why it might become a more regular addition to your weekly fitness routine.
The Benefits of Walking
There’s a reason why walking is recommended in just about all fitness regimes and healthy lifestyle plans — because it comes with a host of health benefits! And while there are certainly physical benefits, the mental and emotional benefits of walking are equally as powerful.
The takeaway? It really just helps you start to feel better overall!
Walking fitness is one of the easiest things to do to get you moving. For most of you, all you need to do is lace up your sneakers and leave your house! And, there’s no one best way to get your steps in. According to research, walking can be just as effective whether you do it in little bursts throughout the day or in longer bouts at once. It’s about making it work for you and your schedule!
So if you work a desk job, let this serve as motivation to move! Get those steps in and avoid the many risks of a sedentary lifestyle.
RELATED: The Amazing Benefits of Walking
What is Walking For Fitness?
Before we go further, what is walking for fitness?
As a type of LISS workout, walking is an aerobic exercise that is performed at a moderate to low intensity for a sustained period of time. Instead of leisurely strolling through your neighborhood, you’ll want to focus on increasing your heart rate, reaching a certain number of walking minutes per day, wearing the proper gear (such as supportive sneakers), and maintaining proper walking form.
While there’s no right or wrong way to add walking into your fitness routine, you’ll want to make your walks intentional. This means taking your goals, fitness level, CDC activity recommendations, and schedule into consideration when creating a fitness walking plan.
How to Get Started With Walking Fitness?
Good news — if you have a pair of sneakers, you’re ready to start a walking fitness routine. However, it’s important to set yourself up for success. Like any new workout plan, it’s easy to have the best intentions but lose focus along the way. These five steps will help you reach your fitness goals with walking.
#1 Set a Weekly Goal
Your walking routine will be an important part of reaching your fitness goals, but balance is key! When it comes to staying healthy, strong, and fit, a balanced routine is one that includes cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, and mobility training.
Again, this will look different for everyone. If you’re just getting started with your fitness routine, maybe you add in a FitOn yoga flow and mobility class and build from there. If you’re more advanced, try planning your walking routine around your strength training days. You can walk before or after resistance training, at a different time of day, or even on different days.
#2 Schedule Your Walks
To ensure you reach your weekly goal, schedule your walks like meetings. After all, studies show the habits that stick are the ones you do on a regular basis (and at similar times each day/week).
Say you want to walk 30 minutes a day, five days per week. You could do one long 30-minute walk, or you could break it up. Maybe you take two 15-minute walks, or maybe even three 10-minute walks! Just make sure you’re staying consistent with your schedule.
#3 Always Know Your “Why”
Remember when you read the section on the benefits of walking a couple of minutes ago? That was fun, right? You started to visualize a happier and healthier version of you. It felt good, and you felt motivated. But life happens. Schedules get busy, and motivation is fleeting. You may find yourself feeling super inspired some days and the complete opposite on others. This is why it’s so important to know your why.
Write it down and visualize yourself as that calmer, more motivated, and inspired version of you. The one that sticks to his/her walking routine!
And on the days where motivation is nowhere to be found, go back to your “why” — Some days may feel tougher than others, but know you’re walking your way towards your goals. Don’t give up!
RELATED: How to Set Fitness Goals That Stick
#4 Start a Walking Journal
While physical changes happen more gradually, the mental benefits from walking exercise can be pretty instantaneous. Really instill this gratification by writing down how you feel after each walk (or at the end of the day). This will help solidify your new walking habit unconsciously, making it that much easier to stick to. As your brain realizes how good it feels after each walk, it will actually start telling you to walk on a subconscious level!
You can even use this journal to record your walks throughout the week. Several walks to the coffee shop + a walking meeting + your planned scheduled walks… and everything in between! It adds up quicker than you think — take a moment to appreciate all your hard work!
#5 Enhance Your Walking Routine
Adding some flavor to your walks makes them even more fun, which makes you more likely to keep taking them.
Here are some ideas:
- Jam out to our favorite tunes (it may even boost your energy & performance!)
- Listen to a podcast or audiobook
- Invite a friend to join you (or give them a call and walk + talk)
- Schedule a walking work meeting
- Bring some resistance bands and squeeze in a circuit workout. Think: squats, glute bridges, and monster walks!
#6 Finish With a Stretch
Similar to any other workout, your walk requires a proper cool down. It will reduce the risk of injury, prevent muscle soreness and tension, and help improve flexibility.
Roll out your mat for a self stretch, or try these guided FitOn mobility and stretching workouts:
- Calf & Shin Mobility with Dr. Kelly Starrett from The Ready State
- Healthy Knees Mobility with Dr. Jen Fraboni
- Total Joint Mobility with Caroline Pearce
Try These Walking For Fitness Home Workouts
What happens if you can’t get outside for your walk? No stress! Simply press play on our favorite 17-minute home Walking Fitness routine with FitOn trainer Bree Koegel. You’ll end up walking a whole mile to high-energy music that will put a pep in your step (literally).
Get in a daily walk routine. This is the perfect low impact workout that helps you achieve your daily steps. It’s time to walk it out together.
It’s a walking cardio party. Get up, move your body, and get to feeling good.
Make Walking For Fitness Work For You!
Adding walking to your current fitness routine is a great way to get the blood flowing, get an extra dose of vitamin D and fresh air, and squeeze in a low-impact workout! But, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan in place and anticipate the roadblocks before they come (bad weather, darker days, or maybe just boredom!) When life happens, head to the FitOn app for motivation and workouts to help you continue making strides toward your goals!