NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Why Walk?

Why Walk?


            Human beings were designed to spend their time upright, walking & moving.  Today’s technology has changed many of us to being in seated positions for the majority of our work day and into couch potatoes for our leisure hours.  It is estimated that only 21% to 34% of U.S. adults meet public health recommendations (5 times per week for at least 30 minutes) for physical activity by walking. What may be even more startling is the lack of walking among youth. According to a Center for Disease Control study, only 13% of children walk to school today compared with 66% in 1970.

            Why Choose Walking?

  • Walking is the easiest form of exercise to stay fit. It is convenient because it can be done almost anywhere and anytime, whether you’re walking to class, to work or down the street.

  • Walking is exercise but can also be used as a social event, going with a family member or friend, or can be done alone and become a time of reflection.
  • It is safe for all ages.  This is because in comparison to other exercise methods, walking puts less strain to the lower back and creates less stress on your joints such as your hips, knees, ankles.  It is also more grounded and balanced.
  • Walking is available to anyone.  It is an exercise that doesn’t require expensive


            Being consistent in your walking exercise routine is one of the most important factors in developing a healthy physical activity program.  Walking 20 extra minutes daily will on average burn off 7 pounds of body fat per year.  Walking 150 minutes per week and losing just 7% of your body weight (12-15 pounds) can reduce your risk of diabetes by 58%.


            Turning your normal walk into a fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, here's how you'll look when you're walking:

  • Your head is up. You're looking forward, not at the ground.
  • Your neck, shoulders and back are relaxed, not stiffly upright.
  • You're swinging your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows. A little pumping with your arms is OK.
  • Your stomach muscles are slightly tightened and your back is straight, not arched forward or backward.
  • You're walking smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe.


As you start your walking routine, remember to:

  • Get the right gear. Choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. Wear comfortable clothes and gear appropriate for various types of weather. If you walk outdoors when it's dark, wear bright colors or reflective tape for visibility.
  • Choose your course carefully. If you'll be walking outdoors, avoid paths with cracked sidewalks, potholes, low-hanging limbs or uneven turf. If the weather isn't appropriate for walking, consider walking in a shopping mall that offers open times for walkers.
  • Warm up. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.
  • Cool down. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.
  • Stretch. After you cool down, gently stretch your muscles. If you'd rather stretch before you walk, remember to warm up first.
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