Walking is a popular physical activity that is enjoyable, inexpensive and requires little skill.

Nearly everyone can walk whether it be for health, fitness, recreation, relaxation or transportation.

Regular walking will improve your overall health and fitness. Just 30 minutes a day can increase cardiovascular fitness, bone strength and muscle power. It can also help to prevent heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, osteoporosis, depression and lower back pain.

Walking safety tips

  • Always warm up and cool down by walking slowly. Remember to stretch your leg muscles, particularly your calves and thighs.
  • Hydrate prior and after walking and consider taking water on longer walks.
  • Use the right technique. Walk at a steady pace, swing your arms freely and stand as straight as your can. Try to walk this way. Poor posture or exaggerated movements can contribute to injury.
  • Where possible walk on a clear, smooth, even and reasonably soft surface, like grass.
  • Wear light, loose, comfortable clothing. In warm weather, protect yourself from the sun with sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat. In cool weather, layer clothing so you can easily remove outer layers as your body warms up.
  • Wear appropriate footwear. Check for shoes with a rubber outsole for durability and spongy midsole to add extra cushioning and reduce weight. If you are walking in more rugged terrain, where hiking boots or other appropriate footwear.
Someone walking in the countryside, wearing walking boots. If you can walk this way, you should avoid injury.
  • Walk with a friend, group or dog for company and safety. Check with your local council for walking groups available.
  • Avoid walking immediately after meals, if unwell, during the hottest part of the day or in extreme weather conditions.
  • Stop and rest for 10 minutes if you experience chest, abdominal, neck or arm pain; tightness; vague discomfort; breathlessness; faintness or have any unusual symptoms. If symptoms persist, see a doctor immediately.
  • Examine your feet and ankles before and after walking. If you notice red spots, swellings or other abnormalities, including numbness, tingling or burning, consult your doctor or a podiatrist.
  • If you have diabetes, test your blood glucose level before, during (if exercising for a long time) and after walking, especially if you are taking diabetes tablets or insulin.

We have further tips on walking, running, footwear and preventing injuries and you can also read more at the SMA website.