Walking for Health
A guide to walking to improve your health and fitness, including tips on getting started and making walking fun.
Walking is simple, free and 1 of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.
Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier.
You do not have to walk for hours. A brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.
Before you start
Any shoes or trainers that are comfortable, provide adequate support and do not cause blisters will do.
If you're walking to work, you could wear your usual work clothes with a comfy pair of shoes and change shoes when you get into work.
For long walks, you may want to take some water, healthy snacks, a spare top, sunscreen and a sun hat in a small backpack.
If you start going for longer walks regularly, you may want to invest in a waterproof jacket and some specialist walking shoes for more challenging routes.
How do I know if I'm walking fast enough?
A brisk walk is about 3 miles an hour, which is faster than a stroll.
You can tell you're walking briskly if you can still talk but cannot sing the words to a song.
You could also try using the free Active 10 app on your smartphone.
It tells you when you're walking fast enough and suggests ways to fit in some more brisk walking.
What if I'm not very active?
If you're not very active but are able to walk, increase your walking distance gradually.
If your joints are a problem, check whether your local swimming pool holds exercise classes.
The water helps to support your joints while you move and can help you strengthen your muscles.
If you're not active because of a medical condition, get advice on exercising with a disability.
If you cannot leave the house, why not see if 1 of our free exercise videos can help.
Make it a habit
The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit.
Think of ways to include walking in your daily routine.
- walking part of your journey to work
- walking to the shops
- using the stairs instead of the lift
- leaving the car behind for short journeys
- walking the kids to school
- doing a regular walk with a friend
- going for a stroll with family or friends after dinner
If you live in a city, Walkit has an interactive walk planner to help you find the best walking route.
Each suggested route includes your journey time, calorie burn, step count and carbon saving.
Hikideas uses a tool that can be used for planning both urban and non-urban walks.
Listen to music
Walking while listening to music or a podcast can take your mind off the effort.
It can also get you into a rhythm and help you walk faster.
You'll be surprised at how fast the time goes when you're walking to your favourite tunes.
Use the Active 10 app
Active 10 allows you to track how much and how fast you have walked.
To keep things interesting, it gives you goals to work towards and rewards your progress.
Mix it up
Add variety to your walks. You do not have to travel to the countryside to find a rewarding walk.
Towns and cities offer interesting walks, including parks, heritage trails, canal towpaths, riverside paths, commons, woodlands, heaths and nature reserves.
For inspiring walks, visit Walk Unlimited.
Join a walking group
Walking in a group is a great way to start walking, make new friends and stay motivated.
Ramblers organises group walks for health, leisure and as a means of getting around for people of all ages, backgrounds and levels of fitness.
Its website has details of many locally organised walks in towns and cities, as well as the countryside.
The UK's 15 national parks run free guided walks for the whole family during the holidays.
- Benefits of exercise
- Benefits of cycling
- Why we should sit less
- Physical activity guidelines for children (under 5s)
- Physical activity guidelines for children and young people
- Physical activity guidelines for older adults
- Physical activity guidelines for adults
- Exercise as you get older
- Couch to 5K: week by week
- Get running with Couch to 5K
- Life after Couch to 5K
- My Couch to 5K diary
- Running podcasts for C25K graduates
- How to run correctly
- How to stretch after a run
- Interval training for runners
- Knee exercises for runners
- Overcoming the barriers to exercise
- Knee pain and other running injuries
- Running to music
- 'I struggled to get out of the bath before C25K'
- 'Running helps manage my blood pressure'
- Mother and son bond over love for running
- 'My weight loss tips'
- Get active with a disability
- Fitness advice for wheelchair users
- Running in winter
- Exercising in winter
- Common exercise mistakes
- Why do I feel pain after exercise?
- How a well-fitted sports bra can reduce breast pain
- Exercises for back pain
- Lower back pain exercises
- Top 10 back care tips
- Exercises for sciatica
- Exercises for sciatica problems
- Common posture mistakes and fixes
- 'My search for a back pain cure'
- NHS Fitness Studio
- Get active your way
- Find your next challenge
- Get fit for free
- How to stretch after exercising
- How to warm up before exercising
- Nordic walking
- A guide to pilates
- A guide to tai chi
- A guide to yoga
- Cycling for beginners
- Dance for fitness
- Running tips for beginners
- Swimming for fitness
- Walking for health
- 10-minute abs workout
- 10-minute upper arms workout
- 10-minute firm butt workout
- 10-minute home cardio workout
- 10-minute home toning workout
- 10-minute legs, bums and tums home workout
- 5-minute wake-up workout
- 10-minute workouts
- Do I need to stretch before exercising?
- Exercises for strong bones
- 12-week fitness plan
- Balance exercises
- Flexibility exercises
- Gym-free exercises
- Gym-free workouts
- Easy exercises
- Sitting exercises
- Strength exercises
- Get fit with Strength and Flex
- Strength and Flex exercise plan
- Strength and Flex exercise plan: week by week
- Strength and Flex exercise plan: how-to videos
- 'Strength and Flex keeps me motivated'
- How to improve your strength and flexibility
This article along with others on a broad range of related subjects can also be seen on the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/walking-for-health/.