Get Inspired: How to get into Walking

No matter what your fitness level, what your budget or who you are - walking is one activity that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Whether it's for leisure, to work up a sweat or in competition, you can find a type of walking that suits your ability and fits into your schedule. You can literally do it anywhere, at any time.

Walking is often seen as the perfect activity for anyone looking to start improving their fitness level not only because it's free, but also because you are in control of your speed. You don't need any special equipment just some comfortable walking shoes, so you can decide when it's convenient for you to take a walk.

For people looking to challenge themselves, Nordic Walking or perhaps Race Walking for Team GB's Athletic team might be what you are after.

Why is it good for you?

Tips to get started

Want to use walking as a way to get active? Here are some ways to make it part of your day:

  • Go for a walk in your lunch break
  • Walk with your friends or family and make it a social occasion
  • Join a local walking group, meet new people and get to know your area
  • Get off of the bus a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way home
  • Start with a 10 minute walk. building up your distance & speeding up as your fitness level improves
  • Walk up escalators
  • Use stairs instead of lifts

The health benefits of walking and increasing your fitness are well documented - it not only reduces the risk of illness such as heart disease, asthma and type-2 diabetes but it also helps you to protect yourself against future health problems like high blood pressure and certain types of cancer.

Walking also gives the brain a mental boost and is recommended for those suffering from depression, anxiety and memory loss.

Along with the physical benefits, walking can be done in an organised group or with friends making it the perfect social activity. Walking with others is a great way to meet new people and keep motivated.

If you enjoy the great outdoors, there is no better way of experiencing the countryside than at your own pace through hiking or rambling. There are routes all over the UK that differ depending on your fitness level. Nordic Walking can be seen as taking your nature walk to the next level, using poles to work the upper body and push the legs a little harder.

And if all that doesn't sell walking as the ideal activity, it also has been proven that walking helps you sleep. There really is no reason not to give it a try.

Get Involved

If you would like to find out about walks in your area Walk4Life  is the perfect place to start. It has over 80,000 walks and is really easy to use. You can keep a record of how much walking you do and make up your own walks. Simply type in your postcode or a place name to find walks near you.

For more information about the benefits of walking and how to get started take a look at the helpful NHS walking guide  . To find local walking schemes or to start one of your own, visit Walking for health. 

competitors race walking on a city road

Race Walking vs Running

Racewalking is a progression of steps where the feet make contact with the ground constantly. At least one foot must always be on the ground at any time. In running, the feet move at a much faster pace and feet are allowed to both be off the ground at the same time.

The UK Ramblers  can provide you with insightful information on routes around the country, as well as giving you helpful tips on making the most from your nature walk. If you are interested in a more strenuous workout, British Nordic Walking  is a great place to start to find tuition and instructors near you. If you are in England or Wales and fancy a top quality walking experience take at look one of the 15 National Trails  - these are the top routes in passing through the finest landscapes.

If you would like to find out about taking walking to competition level, British Athletics  have a full list of race dates. You might also like to visit the Race Walk UK site  to find a club near you.

History

Walking may be one of the oldest activities known to humankind. Tracking its history is difficult, but we do know that walking for fitness and sport is a recent concept considering its long past.

Race Walking made its debut Olympic appearance in 1904 when an 800 metre walk was added to the Decathlon event but it wasn't until 1908 that walking appeared as stand-alone events. In 1992, at the Barcelona games, women's walking was also added to the Athletics schedule.

Read the current rules of Race Walking  to find out more about the activity.

Are you inspired to take up Walking? Or maybe you are an enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the activity by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired  or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

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Where Next?

Find a Football event, taster session or group near you.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.