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Fitness: Walking for Wellness

British Columbia Specific Information

Being physically active can benefit your physical and mental health in many ways. For example, it can strengthen your muscles and bones, lower your risk of chronic health conditions, and improve your mood and sleep. Physical activity can be safe for almost everyone. If you have concerns about your health or becoming more active, speak with your health care provider or a qualified exercise professional.

For information on the role of physical activity on overall health and taking steps to change your physical activity level, visit the general health and helping you make it happen sections of our website. If you would like guidance on physical activity or exercise, call our qualified exercise professionals by dialing 8-1-1 and asking to speak with Physical Activity Services between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Pacific Time Monday to Friday. You can also leave a message outside of these hours and email a qualified exercise professional.


Setting an easy daily or weekly goal can motivate you to walk for your health.

Experts recommend at least 2½ hours of moderate to vigorous activity, such as brisk walking, each week. It's fine to walk in shorter periods of time throughout your day and week that add up to the recommended goals.

  • Talk with your doctor if you're worried about how brisk walking might affect your health.
  • Start with an easy short-term goal. For example, walk for 5 or 10 minutes every day. Or increase your number of steps by 300 to 500 each day.
  • Set a longer-term goal after you've made walking a habit.

    You may want to set a goal of walking briskly for at least 30 minutes a day. You can try to do this 5 days a week or more.

  • Find a walking partner to stay motivated.

    This can be a family member, a friend, or a co-worker. Daily dog walks are also a great way to keep up your walking routine.

How can you make a walking program part of your life?

Adding steps to your walking program

You can increase your walking in simple ways. These suggestions can get you started, and you can probably think of more ways.

  • Schedule walks on your daily calendar.
  • Use a wearable device, a phone app, or a pedometer.
  • Get up and move around once an hour at work.
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
  • Walk to the grocery store, doctor appointments, work, school, or shopping when you can.

    You could walk a lap around the grocery store before you start shopping.

  • Park farther than usual from your workplace or a store, and walk the extra distance.

    Or you can get off the bus or subway before your usual stop and walk the rest of the way.

  • Walk around your neighbourhood or around a park.

Walking with others

You can make walking an important part of your life by getting friends and family to join you.

  • Ask family members, friends, and co-workers to join you, and set goals together.
  • Join a walking group or club.
  • Set a goal to take part in an organized fitness walk.
  • Walk a dog every day.
  • Plan family outings around walks together.

    Being physically active with kids sets an example they'll follow as they grow older.

Being safe when you walk

The weather, the time of day, and where you walk can create unsafe conditions. Here are tips to making your walks safer.

  • Know your surroundings.

    Walk in a well-lighted, safe place. If it's dark, walk with a partner. Wear light-coloured clothing. If you can, buy a vest or jacket that reflects light.

  • Carry a cell phone for emergencies.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks that cushion your feet.
  • Pay attention to your walking surface.

    Use sidewalks and paths. Be careful not to slip on wet or icy ground.

  • If you usually walk outside and the weather is bad, walk indoors instead.

    Take comfortable shoes to the mall, and walk several laps inside.

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you are active.

    This is very important when it's hot outdoors and when you do intense exercise. Take a water bottle with you when you walk.


Current as of: October 10, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine