Strolling to Success: The Research Backed Benefits of Walking

In the world of exercise, we often find ourselves chasing the latest trends and innovations. Whether it’s high-intensity interval training, CrossFit, or boutique spin classes, we often overlook one of the most accessible and effective forms of physical activity: walking. 


It’s an exercise accessible to virtually everyone. All you need are a comfortable pair of shoes and a safe place to walk. No special equipment, expensive gym memberships, or rigorous training is required. 

Walking and its profound simplicity can be the antidote to “paralysis by over analysis” – it’s easy and most importantly, it works. 


What Does the Research Say?


As mobile exercise physiologists who frequently meet our clients outside of the gym environment, we often implement walking into our programs. Not only for its ease – but for its numerous advantages as well. 


While the research might not stand out, as walking has a somewhat mundane reputation, trust us, the research is there. The resounding consensus being that walking can have endless benefits for our health. In fact, one of the biggest walking studies to date wrapped up earlier this year – and they found a dose-response relationship between walking and health. AKA the more you walk, the healthier you are! They identified that every extra 1000 steps was associated with a 15% lower risk of all-cause mortality (1). 


Physically, regular walking reduces the likelihood of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, helps to ease pain, improves immunity and helps to maintain function and independence as we age (2,3). As EP’s who work primarily in the return to work space, we’ll also point out that walking is a functional requirement of many jobs – so it makes sense to incorporate it when looking to build functional capacity.


Research also supports the use of walking-interventions when it comes to mental health. In particular, it appears that walking can effectively improve states of emotional distress – with studies referring to the “therapeutic effect” of walking (5). These studies highlight its ability to improve mood, invoke a sense of optimism, increase mental well-being, and promote connection (with nature, ourselves and others) (4,5). Furthermore, one study found that walking in nature, in comparison to urban areas, has additional benefits in relation to reducing anxiety and negative rumination (4). 


Getting the most out of your time on the pavement 🚶🏻‍♀️


If you’re ready to embrace the simplicity walking, here are some tips to make the most of your walks:


  • Remember that some walking is better than none. Even a 10-minute walk can provide health benefits.
  • Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your walks over time.
  • Explore different routes and settings to keep things interesting.
  • Choose comfortable footwear to prevent discomfort or injury.
  • Whenever possible, invite a friend to walk with you for a social and fitness boost.

Author: Tessa Nielsen 
Clinical Exercise Physiologist and
Content Creator at Specialised Health


  1. Banach, M., Lewek, J., Surma, S., Penson, P. E., Sahebkar, A., Martin, S. S., Bajraktari, G., Henein, M. Y., Reiner, Ž., Bielecka‐Dąbrowa, A., & Bytyçi, I. (2023). The association between daily step count and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: a meta-analysis. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurjpc/zwad229

  2. Lee, I., & Buchner, D. M. (2008). The importance of walking to public health. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 40(7), S512–S518. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e31817c65d0

  3. Harris, T., Limb, E., Hosking, F. J., Carey, I. M., DeWilde, S., Furness, C., Wahlich, C., Ahmad, S., Kerry, S., Whincup, P. H., Victor, C., Ussher, M., Iliffe, S., Ekelund, U., Fox-Rushby, J., Ibison, J., & Cook, D. G. (2019). Effect of pedometer-based walking interventions on long-term health outcomes: Prospective 4-year follow-up of two randomised controlled trials using routine primary care data. PLOS Medicine, 16(6), e1002836. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002836
  4. Ma, J., Lin, P., & Williams, J. (2023). Effectiveness of nature-based walking interventions in improving mental health in adults: a systematic review. Current Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-023-05112-z

  5. Martin, M., Anders, A., Klausen, & Roessler, K. (2021). Are Long-Distance Walks Therapeutic? A Systematic Scoping Review of the Conceptualization of Long-Distance Walking and Its Relation to Mental Health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(15).

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