Walking tips - getting started

If you have not walked distances for some time, you should start slowly. Increase the length and pace of your walk gradually. Here are some tips on how to get started and how to prepare for walking.

Warm-up

Start by doing a few warm-up exercises and stretches first. Remember not to start to walk immediately after a big meal.

Build it up slowly

Start with a 20 minute walk then increase gradually. Try to walk at least three times per week.

Use the correct technique

Walk at a steady pace, swing your arms freely. Your feet should step in a rolling action from the heel to the toe.

How fast should I walk?

Walking speed will depend on your level of fitness and walking experience. Difficult terrain or travelling uphill and downhill also affects your overall speed. Assuming a level and firm pathway some general guidelines can be given below.

  • An average walking pace on country and forestry footpaths is: 20 minutes per mile.
  • For a person with good fitness, an approximate moderate walking pace: 15 minutes per mile.
  • A fast walking pace or speed is: 12 minutes per mile.

Cool down

It is important that you cool down after a long fast walk. Do a few stretching exercises, this will help the legs!

Photo of child with family having fun walking

Five essential items for your Walk

1. Clothing

If the weather is going to be warm, you want to start with a breathable shirt/top as your base layer, made of a breathable fabric rather than cotton. It may also be a great idea to take a windproof, water-resistant jacket if the weather is a factor. And if it is cold, add an insulating layer of polyester microfleece. This way you can take off a layer if you have warmed up or put one on if you are feeling cold.

2. Walking Shoes

You will need to invest in your feet with a good pair of shoes. Walking in any old broken-down, non-supportive shoes is a set-up for injury. Do your feet a favour and find some comfortable and supportive shoes.

3. Walking Socks

Cotton holds moisture next to your skin and increases the risk of forming blisters. Instead, you want socks made from breathable fabric or Merino wool. These socks will help keep your feet dry and happy. Be sure to try on socks with your walking shoes to make sure you haven't chosen a sock with too much padding that will crowd your feet in your shoes.

4. Water

Walking is an aerobic activity and you will be losing water as you walk. Make sure you start off well-hydrated with a big glass of water about an hour before your walk. There will be water available at the beginning and at the end of the walk.

5. Backpack

It's wise to use a backpack to carry any on the day essentials you may need, e.g. water/phone/keys/maps.