Walk your way to better health and fitness

Walking is the easiest way to improve your health and fitness, and lose weight.

Mature healthy couple walking for exercise

It’s a simple enough act, but walking can do wonders for your health and fitness too. For many people, walking is the easiest and most convenient way to get their daily exercise.

Walking is a great choice because it’s low impact, which means it’s great for protecting joints. It also helps to strengthen muscles and bones, improve blood circulation and release endorphins – which improve your mood. When completed at a higher intensity, walking can also help you lose weight.

So, how can you walk your way to better health?

Warm up first: Warming up helps prepare your body for exercise by loosening up your muscles and kickstarting your metabolism. When setting off on your walk, spend the first 10 minutes warming up, walking at an easy but steady pace, working your way up to a faster stride.

Speed up the pace: If you want to increase your fitness and burn fat by walking, try to maintain a brisk pace. For walking to provide you with optimal health benefits, it should challenge you. So try to keep your arms moving and your core tight. You’ll know whether the exercise is challenging you enough because your heart rate will increase and you’ll start to perspire. If you’re able, you could try switching to a light jog.

Challenge yourself: Interval training, where you exercise with alternating periods of high and low-intensity activity, is understood to be one of the most effective ways to burn fat and build muscle. If your fitness level is quite good, try to avoid just walking on flat ground. Instead, try approaching one of the hillier streets in your neighbourhood as a challenge, seeing how fast you can reach the top without stopping, before slowing down again on the next street.

Make exercise fun: Exercise should be challenging, but your best bet of sticking to an exercise routine is to make it enjoyable. Make exercising fun by taking up a sport or going on walking trails through bushland with friends, instead of catching up over coffee or lunch.

How can you walk and exercise more every day?

The Australian Department of Health suggests that Australian adults aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. Because finding the motivation to keep going can be the most difficult part, here are some tips to help make it easier to stay active.

Take the stairs

Unless you have a pre-existing injury that means you should use the elevator or escalator, try to take the stairs wherever you go. When you take the car out for the day, you could also try parking a little further away than usual – just to give yourself a longer walk.

Stand up more

If you work at a desk or tend to live a fairly sedentary life, you’re not doing your health any favours. Make sure to take regular breaks; get up and stretch your muscles and go for a wander to get the blood flowing in your body again.

Get active around the house

Cleaning is an easy way to exercise without even having to leave the house. Put on your favourite music, grab the vacuum cleaner and have a boogie while you do the housework. It’ll get your heart rate up and have you doing something productive.

Be your own handyperson
All dynamic movement is exercise; digging in the garden, mowing the lawn, fixing the fence, sweeping the leaves and washing the car will all get your muscles moving and your body burning fat. Save money and get more exercise by doing these tasks yourself.

For information about government recommendations on exercise and health, visit the Department of Health.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    19th Sep 2014
    Walking is great exercise, is enjoyable and definitely keeps one fit. Those who walk to lose weight may be disappointed. Walking 12-14kms per day at a very brisk pace does nothing for my weight. Paddling a canoe upstream and down for 12kms on the River Murray, that works for weight control. At first light in the morning, very enjoyable too.
    19th Sep 2014
    Walkaing is Great, I walk 8ks a day and our town has an outdoor gym which I use as my halfway mark, for 30 mins. I am over weight but since starting this regime I have lost 10 kilo. More to go but I will get there. Just remember, you only gain weight by what you put in your mouth!
    19th Sep 2014
    Great you guys are promoting walking as its cheap and enjoyable, plus has all those health benefits like controlling weight, cholesterol and diabetes. A lot of "old age" afflictions come about from years of sitting on one's bottom for prolonged periods during the day.
    20th Sep 2014
    I am addicted to my walk everyday even on freezing cold days. I walk along the beach and fit in a 2 minute jog, working my way up to 5 minute jog hopefully. It makes me feel good and motivated. I am lucky I don't need to lose weight, I agree with Tim@toc you probably won't lose weight quick enough but it all helps, try going for a walk instead of munching on snacks, don't forget to drink water.
    8th Nov 2014
    It would be safer to walk faster if surfaces were level - not like a lot of footpaths, bikeways and lawns are. I have reported bad footpaths in my council area - still nothing done!!!About 90% of it is pavers which have moved - some are higher than others. A few have been caused by large trees with shallow roots across the top that have push the surfaces up including concrete. Some lawn areas have "potholes" in them and surprisingly are not caused by watering systems. I have nearly had a few falls and there is quite a ratio of older people in the area whose sight and balance may not be 100%....I think I am going to report them to the council again before somebody gets badly injured.
    8th Nov 2014
    When I was working I either rode my bicycle or walked to work.

    11th Nov 2015
    10,0000 steps a day is my minimum now....quite often go over that...even did 16,500 one day. Having a fitbit has encouraged me to do it and stick with it...I hate exercise and walking is the one thing I will do
    In Outer Orbit
    2nd Apr 2016
    According to research just published in the Lancet,

    "Almost a fifth of the world's obese adults - 118 million - live in only six high-income English-speaking countries - Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, UK, and the US.
    By 2025, the UK is projected to have the highest levels of obese women in Europe (38%), followed by Republic of Ireland (37%) and Malta (34%).
    Being underweight remains a significant health problem in countries such as India and Bangladesh."

    There are some league tables where being among the world leaders is pretty undesirable.

    Instead of half of us walking round in circles like headless chickens just to try to burn off excess flab, while the other half waste away for lack of food, why don't we just ration the food to where it's really needed and do everyone in the World a huge favour.

    Nobody was obese in Europe while rationing applied.

    I know it's Politically impossible until WW3, but only because we're so terribly misled (to serve the interests of big business ie big medicine and big food).

    Throw another snag on the barbie (and kiss your well-being goodbye). Just how fat and ill do we all have to get before Governments show some real leadership and actually earn what we are paying them for? Global warming, boom and bust economies, a plague of fat, just who is in charge around here? And how much are we paying these people?

    I'm putting a huge hamster wheel in our place, hooking it up to feed the national grid at a green energy tariff, and charging less than a gym membership to anyone who wants to burn some calories. Roll up.
    go veg!
    2nd Apr 2016
    Why would you expect governments to do what people should take ownership of themselves, namely their own weight and health? Remember the old idea of self responsibility? The government isn't forcing people to sit around eating rubbish and having a health issue is not an excuse - it's an individual choice, and we surely shouldn't want to be more of a nanny state.
    In Outer Orbit
    3rd Apr 2016
    Totally agree with you Go Veg, in an ideal world.

    The other view is that the evidence shows us that in general the public are NOT taking the steps necessary to protect their own health, hence the escalating obesity statistics and related health problems we are seeing throughout the world, eg the type 2 diabetes epidemic.

    There are two choices faced with this reality; either we put our heads in the sand and delude ourselves that we are avoiding a nanny state, and accept that we will all just have to dig even deeper into our tax pockets to pay the avoidable disease bill, OR we can turn to our legislators to do something to challenge a global food industry which is only too ready to sell unhealthy products while they can get away with it (supported by a medical and pharmaceutical industry only too happy to take the extra business - eg statins for everybody).

    The obesity and diabetes figures make clear that something is wrong with the status quo. I (and many others) would suggest we need better dietary education for all, encouragement to better food habits in the next generation via school menus, much clearer food labelling so that the damaging products are identifiable (as for cigarettes), use of GST levers to encourage healthy consumption vs junk consumption etc. We can call that the nanny state, or call it leadership by the machinery of Government, all of which we are already having to pay for. Doing nothing means we stick with all the current legislation and policy which is currently resulting in our national illness - ie current misdirected nannying. Personally, I'd welcome more intelligent government, and a lot more value for money out of my tax dollars, rather than see them being squandered on preventable disease.

    To take the 'no nanny state' principle to its logical conclusion, why bother immunising anybody? Instead we could leave it to choice, and pay to treat all the extra sufferers we would have of TB and polio etc. That would obviously be a very stupid approach to managing national health, but this seems exactly the dumb approach we're currently taking to the diabetes epidemic, and it's just not good enough. In fact, it's so obviously contrary to the interest of the nations health we have to ask why we have the current status quo? Perhaps Big Food and Big Medicine lobby so much more effectively at the centre of Government than the masses they are exploiting? I imagine there might even be the odd commentators here only too happy to use the old 'nanny state' trick to shut down calls for better policy? Time for me to waddle off to my GP.

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