Photo Credit: Jim White

Yogi Berra said, “You observe a lot by watching.” Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare counters, “You gain a lot by walking.”

A good run, a workout on an elliptical or treadmill or a bike ride are all great methods of keeping yourself in game shape. Yet many health professionals strongly believe walking is the best workout of them all.

Many health professionals strongly believe walking is the best workout

Even something as simple as walking needs to be done the correct way, however. Here are some tips from Wheaton Franciscan to keep you on the right path.

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Choose the correct shoes.

Comfort is key. Not all shoes are made equally. Consult professionals at a shoe or sporting goods store. They’ll match your foot to the type of terrain you’ll be walking on.


A pedometer or a device such as a Fitbit can track how many steps or the distance you travel.

Track your heart rate.

A heart monitor will help to keep you in the right cardiovascular zone. Or find your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220, and aim to work between 60 percent and 80 percent of that number. A portable music player can provide you with music and tempo to walk to (be sure to keep the volume low enough that you can hear traffic and other sounds).

Add some weights.

A weighted vest is the best option because it centers the weight. If you use hand-held or ankle weights, be careful they don’t disrupt your normal, natural movements.

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Try some poles.

Recent studies have shown that Nordic walking (walking with poles) burns more calories, increases oxygen consumption and can be 46 percent more efficient than normal walking.

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Spend time warming up before and cooling down after you walk with a few simple stretches to help flush lactic acid out of your muscles and reduce stiffness.

Pay attention to your breathing.

Start your walk with a few deep breaths. When you start to walk, breathe in a pattern that relates to your steps.

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Use your arms.

Keep your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, relax your shoulders and pump those arms.

Mix things up.

Try interval speeds. Mix up your normal pace with a variety that involves taking smaller steps, then longer strides. Brief “bursts” during a walk can double your calorie burn. For variety, try sideways walking. Even a few steps sideways works a different set of muscles in your hips and legs.

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