Walk This Way; How to Optimize the Benefits of Walking

By: Tamar Hela | Published: Feb 28, 2024

Daily walking is incredibly beneficial. While many people think you have to head to the gym for a difficult workout to get in shape, this isn’t the case. Studies have proven that all you need is a daily walk.

Of course, there are a few ways to optimize the benefits of these daily walks. To truly improve your overall health, you must ensure you’re walking correctly.

Fix Your Posture

Every time you go for a walk, take the time to pay attention to your posture. Are your shoulders slouched? Fix this. Stand tall, keep your shoulders back, and walk properly by stepping heel to toe.

A close-up of a person’s athletic shoes on a track with a “benefits” stamp.

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By fixing your posture, you work more muscles in your body, which will allow you to have an even better workout. Fixing your posture can also help prevent any injuries.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Wearing proper, comfortable athletic shoes is also essential. If you wear improper shoes that don’t provide enough support, you run the risk of experiencing things like foot pain or blisters. You could also potentially get shin splints.

A person in athletic shoes walks on a path amid dark green grass.

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To avoid any injury or annoyance, invest in walking shoes that will keep you comfortable throughout your daily walks. Look for shoes that have arch support and cushioning.

Warm Up Before Your Walk

Even if you’re just walking around the block for 11 minutes, you need to accurately warm up your body. A great way to do this is to stretch for a few minutes before you begin to loosen up your body and muscles.

A person stretching their arms while they walk on a bridge around a snowy town.

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Not properly warming up before you begin your walk could result in injury. Avoid this risk by doing some quick stretches or yoga poses to really warm up your legs and body.  

Cool Down After Your Walk

After your walk, you’ll want to cool your body and your muscles down. A cool-down session can help minimize any muscle soreness you may have. It can also help improve your overall flexibility.

A woman with black hair and wearing workout clothes stretches by putting her foot up on a railing.

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To cool down, also do a quick stretching routine. Stretch for a few minutes until you begin to feel your body calm down. If you feel you have particular muscle tightness or areas that are already sore, pay attention to this part of your body during stretching.

Think About Pace

When it comes to improving your health, the consistency of daily walking is the main thing. Walking every day can benefit your health much more than walking every other week can. However, it’s also important to shine a light on your overall pace.

A person walks on a path surrounded by grass and trees as the sun sets.

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While you don’t necessarily have to walk incredibly fast to benefit from daily walks, it might help you personally to play around with pace. Start your walk slowly, then speed up in the middle. If you’re able, try to speed up your pace to 100 steps a minute for added health benefits.


Always Have a Plan

If you’re looking to improve your overall health with consistent, or daily, walks, you should always have a plan — and a plan B. For example, if you normally walk outside, what will you do if the weather is terrible?

A row of treadmills at an empty gym.A row of treadmills at an empty gym.

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To keep your walks consistent, have another option. You could go to a gym to walk on a track or a treadmill. You could also go to your local mall and walk around there, instead.


Set Overall Goals

To stay on top of your daily walks, it might help to set some overall goals. Are you trying to improve your health? Lose weight? Or simply feel better? Lay it all out.

A silhouette of a person walking on top of a hill with clouds and a pink and purple sky behind them.

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Once you understand what you’re looking for from these walks, always keep it at the forefront of your mind. Remember why you’re doing this. Set up goals each week. For example, you could set up a weekly goal of walking five days a week for 30 minutes each time.


Check Out Different Routes

It can feel easy to get bored during walks, especially if you walk around the same area every single day. To keep things interesting — and to keep yourself motivated — seek out other routes you could take.

Three women in the distance walking on a path surrounded by green and grown grass and under a cloudy blue sky.

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Simply walking in a different area may be all you need to regain some of the motivation you may have lost.


Walk With Someone

Consistency is important with walks — but it can feel difficult to find the inspiration to actually go on this walk. Therefore, sometimes it helps to have someone to walk with, as this can keep you accountable for improving your health.

Two women walk together with their arms linked outside during the daytime on a path by trees and grass.

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Find a family member or friend to walk with. You can also walk with your dog to keep things fun!


Drink Plenty of Water

Even if you’re not regularly working out, you need to drink enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated. If you’re going on consistent walks, you definitely need to ensure you’re hydrated throughout the day.

A young man drinks water from a sports bottle while on a track, with green grass behind him.

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Drinking water keeps you healthy and your body happy. So, always ensure you’re drinking enough water before, during, and after your walks. On average, men should drink 15.5 cups of water, while women should drink 11.5 cups.


Eat Healthy Food Throughout the Day

Just as you need to drink water, you should also eat healthy food during meal times. Since you’re going to be exerting energy through these walks, ensure your diet is replenishing this energy.

Two people eat food from a plate and a bowl together.

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Before you walk, try to eat a balanced meal that has carbohydrates and protein. After your walk, have a meal or snack that helps with overall muscle recovery and restoring energy.