Yes, you're putting one foot in front of the other, but are you getting the most out of your walk?

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Walking is one of the healthiest and most accessible ways to move your body. It can improve blood sugar, boost your heart health and can even help you live longer. One study found that walking just three times per week could significantly reduce dementia risk, too. Best of all, walking is totally free, requires no gym and can take as much or as little time as you have to spend. That said, there are a few things that can prevent you from making the most of your walk. Here are the top five mistakes you're making when walking and how to fix them. 

1. Bad Form

Sure, many of us learn to walk when we are so young we can't really remember it and we probably haven't thought about it much since. However, your walking form deserves some attention, whether you are walking for exercise or just casually. We have a few simple tips for walking according to a barre instructor, and the fundamentals are front and center. Be sure to roll your foot from heel to toe, and keep your feet hip width apart. Engage your core, keep your shoulders back and look forward to ensure your posture helps you get the most from your walk. 

2. Wrong Shoes

The older I get, the more and more I realize the importance of supportive footwear. Making sure you have the right shoes is crucial for preventing injury and feeling your best, especially if you are trying to walk more. Not only is having the correct size important, but it is also important to consider the arch of your foot and what will be most comfortable for you. It is always a good idea to get input from your doctor or podiatrist before starting a new activity like walking, or if you are experiencing foot pain from increased walking. Check out the nine best walking shoes for women, according to podiatrists

Young woman walking on an illustrated street
Credit: Adobe Stock / chocobluesky19

3. Not Considering It a Workout

Though sometimes it's just a way to get from point A to point B, walking is a great way to move your body. Even if it's only for a few minutes between a meeting, walking is definitely a form of exercise especially if you do it with intention. It can even help with weight loss if that is your goal, but consistency is key. We have this walking plan for weight loss to help you get started. 

4. Going Too Slow 

Sure, a leisurely walk around the neighborhood or trail can be very relaxing. But sometimes it is worthwhile to up the pace. In order for walking to become like an exercise, you have get to get your heartrate elevated. For the average person, a moderate walking pace is about four miles per hour, or 15 minutes per mile. This can vary a little bit depending on the terrain you are walking on. Research has also shown that walking at a faster pace can help increase life expectancy. That doesn't mean there is no place for a slow saunter in your routine. However, there are health reasons to pick up the pace on some of your walks if you typically walk more slowly. 

5. Not Counting All of Your Steps 

For many of us, time is a hot commodity. As schedules begin to fill back up, it can be hard to find time for a full-fledged workout. Luckily, little bits throughout the day can add up. During the time I was working at home, I would go for walks between meetings or even just around the block for a few minutes at a time. The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week, which is roughly 30 minutes for five days a week. Several walks for just five or ten minutes a piece can help you fit in movement on even the busiest of days. 

Bottom Line 

Walking is a great way to move, and is underrated for the health benefits it can provide. From boosting heart health to improving longevity and more, there are so many reasons to lace up your sneakers and get outside. It can even lead to weight loss, if that is your goal. That said, these small tweaks can go a long way in helping you get the most from your walks. So grab your sneakers and get moving!