5 Ways to get the Most out of Walking

Here are five research-backed ways to sneak more steps into every day—as well as get the most out of every step you take from an article in Consumer Reports.

1. Walk as much as you can. Countless studies show people who walk a lot have smaller waists, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and better blood sugar control.  Many people aim for a daily goal of 10,000 steps (or about 5 miles)—and industry of fitness tracking devices has emerged to support them—but that magic number didn’t originate from scientific research, It was first used in a Japanese marketing effort associated with one of the first commercial pedometers.” The device was called “manpo-kei,” which means “10,000 steps meter” in Japanese.

2. Pick up the pace. Another way to get more out of even a shorter walk is to do it faster. A study published in 2017 in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise looked at not just the total number of steps people took per day but also how quickly they took them.  Those who had a faster stepping rate had similar health outcomes—lower BMI and lower waist circumference—as those who took the most steps per day. The experts recommend 2.5 (about 100 steps per minute) to 4mp (about 135 steps per minute)

3. Break it up.  Most people will need to make time for walking to get the steps you need but during your “normal day” aim for brisk walking bouts of 10 minutes or more at a time. You’ll get in more steps and decrease the amount of time you spend being sedentary—which is a big risk factor for heart disease.

4. Try intervals. Instead of doing an entire 30-minute walk at the same moderate pace, try high-intensity interval training. Alternate between 30-second to 1-minute bursts of faster walking, followed by a minute or two of slower-paced recovery.  In one study researchers compared people who did no exercise with those who walked at a steady, moderate pace and those who mixed high and moderate intensity. The researchers found that the group that cranked up the intensity had the greatest reductions in waist circumference and abdominal fat.

5. Take it uphill. Walking up a hill is a “two for one” When you increase your intensity, such as walking up a steep hill, you get the equivalent benefit in half the time.