Content Map Terms

Heart Health: Walking for a Healthy Heart


Walking is a type of aerobic exercise. It's one of the easiest ways to increase your physical activity and improve your health. Physical activity increases your heart rate, strengthens your heart, and increases blood circulation through your body. This can help bring more oxygen and nutrients to your organs. Exercise also increases your lungs' ability to take in oxygen. It lowers blood pressure and helps to reduce body fat. It also improves blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

How can you safely start a walking program?

These steps can help you get started with a safe, heart-healthy walking program.

  • Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

    If you have heart problems, your doctor may want to do tests to find out how much activity your heart can safely handle.

  • Start out slowly at first, with a warm-up in the beginning, a faster pace in the middle, and a cool-down at the end.
  • Use a phone app or pedometer to count your steps.

    Wear it all day. If you want to walk more each day, use it to track your progress.

  • Set a goal.

    Try to walk at a moderate activity level for at least 2½ hours a week. One way to do this is to walk 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week.

  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks that cushion your feet.
  • Drink plenty of water.

    Take a bottle with you when you walk.

  • Be safe, and know your surroundings.

    Walk in a well-lighted, safe place.

  • Stay motivated.
    • Find a walking partner. Walking with someone can make it more enjoyable.
    • Walk to work, school, the grocery store, or a restaurant.

Staying motivated

Here are some tips to help you stay motivated with your walking program.

  • Set goals you can reach.

    You can do this by breaking your big goal into smaller, short-term goals. These short-term goals should be things you know you can do.

  • Use a phone app or a pedometer.

    Use it every day to count your steps. It can remind you to walk more. And it can help you set goals and make walking a habit.

  • Walk with friends or co-workers.

    One of the best ways to stay motivated to walk is to include other people. Ask friends and co-workers to join you. Join a walking group or club.

  • Walk before or after work or on your lunch break.

    Instead of taking a snack or coffee break, take a walk break.

  • If the weather is bad, try to find a place to walk indoors.

    For example, take comfortable shoes to the mall, and walk inside. Or try to find an indoor track in your neighbourhood, or use a treadmill.

  • Walk to work, school, the grocery store, or a restaurant.
  • Walk around your neighbourhood, around an entire park, or to do errands.
  • Schedule walks on your business calendar.

    Turn a walk into a brainstorming session with a co-worker.

  • Plan family outings around walks together.
  • Take your dog on a walk.
  • Set a goal to participate in an organized fitness walk.


Current as of: September 7, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine