Walking for Health

Walking for health is the simplest exercise to get started on, and the one with which you are most likely to continue. The great advantage of walking is that you can start from any level of fitness and build from there.

Benefits of Walking

  • You can do it almost anywhere.
  • No need to take lessons, you already know how to walk.
  • Increased energy
  • Improved fitness level
  • Reduced stress and tension
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Enhanced weight-loss
  • Enhanced ability to perform day by day activities
  • Reduced risk of age-related diseases
  • Improved cardiovascular wellness


The only requirements are good supportive and comfortable shoes, and loose, comfortable clothing. In hot weather take a hat and some sun-screen, as well as a water bottle.No other equipment is needed.

What to Look for When Buying Shoes for Walking

  • Shoes should fit well but allow room for your feet to expand while walking.
  • Walking shoes should be flexible enough to move with you as your foot rolls through the strike to push-off phase of walking.
  • They should be flat, with little difference in height from the ball of the foot to the heel.
  • The heel should not be flared.


All walkers should start with a few gentle stretches, and take it easy for the first five minutes of walking.

  • Beginners can start by walking short distances. Walk a few minutes then rest a few minutes, if necessary. 20 minutes is a good starting place, but for some people that will need to be broken into two 10 minute walks a day. Aim to walk at least four days a week.
  • Intermediate level - As you get stronger and your stamina improves you can start walking for 30 minutes at a time. Aim to walk briskly, but still be able to talk to your companion.
  • Advanced - Your eventual goal should be to be able to walk three miles comfortably in 45 minutes.

Once you have reached a solid level of fitness with your walking, there are more options open to you, including hiking, Nordic Walking, and joining in 5 or 10K charity walks/runs.


Did You Know...?

Since obesity and cardiovascular disease are among the major risk factors for heart attack and stroke, walking offers protection against two of our leading killers.

Walking burns approximately the same number of calories as running, over a similar distance!

Hiking can include anything from a two hour trek into the nearby countryside, all the way to a multi-night camping trip. Your necessary gear will vary accordingly. For the best advice go to your local sports and camping outfitters, or google Hiking online.

Nordic Walking

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nordic Walking"

Nordic walking can be done year round in any climate and anywhere a person of any age or ability might otherwise walk without poles. It combines simplicity and accessibility of walking with simultaneous core and upper body conditioning similar to Nordic skiing. The result is a full-body walking workout that can burn significantly more calories without a change in perceived exertion or having to walk faster, due to the incorporation of many large core, and other upper-body muscles which comprise more than 90% of the body's total muscle mass and do work against resistance with each stride. 'Normal walking' utilizes only 70% of muscle mass with full impact on the joints of the legs and feet. Nordic Ski Walking produces up to a 46% increase in energy consumption compared to walking without poles.


Compared to regular walking, Nordic walking involves applying force to the poles with each stride. Nordic walkers use more of their entire body (with greater intensity) and receive fitness building stimulation not as present in normal walking for the chest, lats, triceps, biceps, shoulder, abdominals, spinal and other core muscles. This extra muscle involvement leads to enhancements over ordinary walking at equal paces such as:

  • increased overall strength and endurance in the core muscles and the entire upper body
  • significant increases in heart rate at a given pace
  • greater ease in climbing hills
  • burning more calories than in plain walking
  • improved balance and stability with use of the poles
  • significant un-weighting of hip, knee and ankle joints
  • provides density preserving stress to bones


Nordic walking poles are significantly shorter than those recommended for cross-country skiing. Using poles of incorrect length may add stress to the walker's knees, hips and/or back, diminishing the benefits of walking with poles.
Nordic walking poles come in both one-piece, non-adjustable shaft versions, and telescoping two-piece twist-locking adjustable length versions.

Most Nordic walking poles feature grips with special Nordic walking straps - a kind of fingerless glove, allowing power transmission through the strap, or specially designed ergonomic strapless grips both of which eliminate the need to tightly grasp the pole grips.

Unlike trekking poles, Nordic walking poles come with removable rubber tips for use on hard surfaces and hardened metal tips for trails, the beach, snow and ice. Most poles are made from lightweight aluminum, carbon fiber, or composite materials.

Charity Walks, Walking Clubs and Groups

For anyone who enjoys walking, and likes the social aspect of it, there are all kinds of walking clubs and groups, as well as walks for charity - usually 5 or 10K.

In our area alone, there are 20 walking groups listed. Walks for Heart, for stroke prevention, walking group for new Moms, a Widows walk sponsored by Hospice, various training groups to prepare for the 10K walk in April and for marathons, and a Nordic Walking group.

Whether it is a walk with your dog, or a group of friends who walk regularly and then go out for coffee, you are sure to be able to find something to keep you on track and fit for the years to come.

Remember, before undertaking any physical fitness program, you should have a thorough medical examination. This is particularly important for persons over 40 and for anyone who has not been physically active on a regular basis.

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