Walking is a gentle and low impact form of physical activity. It is a natural and simple way to be active.
Walking is an ideal activity that is safe for almost all individuals regardless of age or ability. It is also an economic way to get active, have fun and feel good about yourself.
- is economical and can be done anywhere, anytime
- gives you more energy
- helps improve your quality of life
- helps you sleep better
- reduces stress and tension
- reduces your blood pressure and bad cholesterol
- helps with digestion
- is a great way to meet new people
- makes you feel great
- Start small and begin with a 15 minute walk and work your way up. Set a goal for yourself and gradually increase how far you walk, how long you walk, and how fast you walk.
- Get the right gear and wear a good pair of running shoes with firm ankle support, enough toe room, and a flexible instep. A bad shoe can cause injury.
- Build a support system and share the benefit of walking with a walking group or a support buddy, which can be a member of your family, a friend or even your dog.
- Aim to meet the Canadian physical activity guidelines (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology) for adults aged 18 to 64 years, which recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
Walk when you can, and work your way up by:
- Increasing the number of steps you take each day by taking the stairs, or walking to work or school
- Getting off the bus one stop early
- Going for a walking break instead of a coffee break
- Parking your car on the far side of the parking lot
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after walking activities
- Protect yourself from the weather including the sun
- Wear bright or reflective clothing
- Walk indoors if the outdoors is not an option
- Warm up and cool down with stretches
Here are a few stretches that are good for walkers. Add a few more exercises that stretch other areas of your body, such as shoulders and arms. Hold the stretches at a point of easy tension for about 30 seconds. Stretching helps your muscles stay flexible. These stretches should be done before and after your walk. Be sure to stretch both legs.
Calf stretch: Stand about three feet from a wall. Lean forward and put your hands against the wall at shoulder height (don’t bend at the waist). Put one foot forward (both knees should be slightly bent). Keeping both heels on the ground, lean your body slowly toward the wall. If you are doing the stretch correctly, you should feel the stretch in the calf of the back leg. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, then change legs and repeat.
Standing hamstring: Stretch In a standing position, place one leg forward with toes pointed up towards the ceiling. Your supporting leg should be slightly bent. Slowly bend at the hips while keeping your back straight until you feel the stretch. You should feel the stretch behind the outstretched leg. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, then change legs and repeat.
Thigh stretch (quadriceps): With one hand against a wall, or holding the back of a chair, hold your foot with your free hand and bring it up towards your buttocks (your supporting leg should be slightly bent at the knee and your hips slightly forward). Be sure to keep the knee of your stretched leg pointing down to the floor alongside your supporting leg. You should feel the stretch on the front of your thigh. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, then change legs and repeat. Note: If you need assistance for this stretch, you can use a towel, strap or belt to help lift up the leg.
Active transportation (Public Health Agency of Canada) is defined as a human powered way of transportation, such as walking, cycling or skateboarding. Everybody travels every day in order to live, learn, work and play. It is important to reduce the dependency on motorized vehicle use and make smart choices about transportation. We all have a part to play to live longer healthier lives. Walking and cycling are key contributors to improve health through increased physical activity.
Many health benefits are obtained through active transportation:
- It is a great way to fit some physical activity into your day.
- It is an accessible means of transportation.
- It offers opportunities to meet new people.
- It is a less expensive way to travel.
- it can help reduce road congestion and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to air pollution.
Tips to begin:
- Before jumping in your motorized vehicle, ask yourself whether walking or cycling to your destination is possible.
- When going out with your children (to the beach, park, etc.) consider making it a family bike ride or a family walk.
- Consider using public transportation.
- Walk to school (Safe routes to school) with your kids.
- Walk to work.
If you are searching for a way to incorporate physical activity into your life, but need extra motivation, a walking club may be a great option for you! A walking group is a great way to begin walking in the company of other interested individuals. You can join an existing walking club or program in your community, or you can start your own. Starting your own walking club is a simple process and may provide huge rewards. Below are tips on how to begin a walking club.
There are many advantages to a walking group, such as:
- Makes physical activity fun
Where do you begin?
In order to recruit members for your walking group, you should:
- Spread the word to family members, friends and neighbours. Invite them to tell their friends and families.
- Post information about your walking group on social media. You may be surprised by the amount of people you know who already walk on a daily basis.
- Talk to coworkers, they may be interested in this type of physical activity.
- Create flyers or posters and place them throughout the community.
- Continually invite participants to join the walking club.
When your group is established, hold a meeting to discuss the logistics of the walking group, such as:
- what days you will be walking
- distance of walk
- how fast you will be walking (it is best to begin slowly, and increase as members are comfortable and able to tolerate the pace of the walk)
- where you will walk (you will have to think about available parking spaces for members, bathroom facilities, benches on route, etc.)
- meeting spot to begin walks
- choose a start date
- possibility of walking indoors in poor weather conditions
- establish a sign in sheet to keep track of participants
- obtain emergency contacts and member contact information
- begin walking!
Once the walking group is established and in need of additional motivation, look for ways to enhance enthusiasm. You may:
- find a name for the group
- set group goals
- participate in community walking events
- you may want to add the fun of a pedometer and track success
- change up the walking route to keep things interesting
- try urban poling
Always make sure members have available water before, during and after the walk. It is also important to warm up and cool down with stretches and slower paced walking. Members should wear comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing. Members should consult with their health care provider before beginning a new physical activity routine.
Walking with a pedometer
Walking with a pedometer can help you keep track of your progress in demonstrating the steps you take.
What is a pedometer?
A pedometer is a small device that counts the number of steps you take. The pedometer is a great tool that can help motivate you to keep you active. You can buy a pedometer at a department store or sporting goods stores locally. A basic pedometer will range from $10 to $30.
How to use the pedometer:
- Clip the pedometer to the waistband of your pants near your hip
- Follow the instructions that come with your pedometer and get moving!
The 20 step test
This test checks the accuracy of your pedometer.
- Clip your pedometer to the waistband of your pants
- Reset the counter to zero
- Walk 20 steps
- Check the number of steps you’ve recorded (should read between 19 and 21 steps)
- If the steps are incorrect, reposition the pedometer and repeat the test
Daily step goals
How many steps should you aim for? This can change depending on many factors such as ability to walk, experience level, etc. Below is a guideline that can help you make the most out of walking.
Less than 5000 steps per day
- You should gradually increase the amount of walking you do to further benefit your health.
5000-7499 steps per day
- This is the average for most people, but is not enough to enjoy all the health benefits of walking.
7500-9999 steps per day
- You are moving in the right direction. You are classified in the “somewhat active” category.
More than 10 000 steps per day
- This is a great target. You are in the active category.
More than 12 500 steps per day
- You are in the highly active category and means that you are attaining many health benefits.
Please note that these guidelines and step goals may not necessarily be appropriate for every individual.
Set your own realistic goals by gradually increasing the number of steps you take each day. You may wear your pedometer all day, every day.
Tips for reaching your daily steps goal:
- take the stairs instead of the elevator
- walk to work or school
- get off the bus a few stops early
- go for a walk break instead of a coffee break
- park your car on the far side of the parking lot
Are you looking for new ways to boost your walking? Urban poling may be right for you! Urban poling, also known as Nordic walking is a new, trending activity in Canada. It involves walking with special walking poles and offers a bit of a twist to traditional walking.
Urban poling is a user friendly sport, similar to cross country skiing, that combines aerobic training with the benefits of strength building.
Urban poling offers a full body workout and offers many benefits:
- engages 90 percent of your muscles
- reduces impact on hips, knees, ankles and joints in comparison to walking
- improves balance, stability and posture
- it is a great way to strengthen you core muscles
- it can be done anywhere at any time
- provides great social opportunities
- minimal equipment required (you only need a good pair of shoes and your walking poles)
- suitable for all ages and fitness levels
Step 1: You need to make sure you are holding the correct pole in the correct hand; they are marked on the poles with an “L” for left and an “R” for right.
Step 2: Stand tall and hold your poles vertically. Your elbows should be slightly bent. Start walking and drag the poles behind you, making sure you maintain the body’s natural walking pattern. It is important that you maintain this walking pattern, which means your right arm swings forward when your left foot steps forward and vice versa. This assures that the poles will land in the correct spot in order to achieve the urban poling technique. Your arms should swing forward like the pendulum of a clock.
Step 3: Propel your arms forward following the natural swinging of your arms to push yourself forward. Imagine as though you were cross country skiing. Similarly, you are trying to push yourself forward with the poles. Do not try to grip the handles too tightly.
This item was last modified on June 2, 2022