Brisk walking can help people to increase their activity levels or ease themselves into a more active lifestyle. Unlike other forms of exercise, brisk walking has a lower risk of injury and is a low-cost activity.

When people take a brisk walk several times per week, they may experience health benefits, such as a drop in blood pressure and a decrease in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In this article, we describe in more detail what brisk walking is. We also list the health benefits a person may experience when doing this form of exercise.

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Brisk walking is an example of a moderate intensity aerobic activity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define moderate intensity aerobic activity as anything that makes a person sweat and raises their heart rate to the extent that they can talk but not sing.

As a rule of thumb, for a person to be brisk walking, they need to move at a maximum speed of 4.5 mph. A person should aim to do a brisk walk every day for at least 30 minutes.

A person may experience plenty of health benefits when brisk walking frequently or, generally, when increasing their activity levels.

These benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer, such as bladder, breast, and colon cancer.

A 2017 report also suggests that brisk walking can positively impact people’s health and is an accessible method for helping people increase their activity levels.

The authors of the report define brisk walking as walking at the speed of at least 3 mph. They claim that people with existing health conditions may see more health benefits when walking briskly for 10 minutes every day.

They also claim that people who undertake less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week may see this form of exercise as more accessible.

To learn what positive effects walking can have on people’s health, researchers have examined the relationship between different walking paces and health outcomes.

A 2018 study pooled survey data from more than 50,000 English and Scottish walkers and investigated the effects of walking speed on people’s health.

The researchers concluded that there may be a link between walking at a self-reported average or brisk pace and a reduced risk of death from all causes or from cardiovascular disease compared with walking at a slow pace.

Brisk walking may benefit brain health too. A 2014 study concluded that a twice-weekly 6-month outdoor brisk walking program increased hippocampus volume in older females who were likely to have mild cognitive impairment.

However, the researchers note that there is a need for more research to support these findings.

According to a 2017 report, 10 minutes of brisk walking a day could help inactive people reach a moderate weight. The report defines “inactive” as engaging in less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.

However, brisk walking alone will not aid weight loss. If a person aims to lose weight, they also need to consider their daily dietary choices and calorie intake.

To maintain a moderate weight, a person needs to balance the foods they eat with the amount of physical activity they undertake each day.

Below are some tips for good walking form:

  • Start slowly in order to warm up, and cool down by slowing down.
  • Keep the shoulders down and relaxed while maintaining a long, straight back.
  • Roll the foot forward from the heel.
  • Gradually start including hills into your walking routes.

If a person’s feet feel sore after a brisk walk, they may benefit from a foot massage or soaking their feet in warm water.

Learn more about techniques for massaging the feet here.

The calories burned by brisk walking will vary depending on a person’s weight and other factors.

For example, a person weighing 154 pounds will burn the following number of calories per hour for each listed activity:

Calories burned per hour
Walking (3.5 mph)280
Walking (4.5 mph)460
Running or jogging590
Weight lifting (light workout)220
Cycling (more than 10 mph)590
Swimming (slow freestyle laps)510

Doing moderate intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, for 30 minutes most days has many benefits, including reducing anxiety, decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems, and making falling asleep easier.

Jogging does burn more calories than a brisk walk, but it may not be attainable for people with overweight right away, as they might need to build up to an exercise routine.

Brisk walking and other types of moderate aerobic exercise have many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Brisk walking is a low-cost and easy way for people to increase their physical activity levels.

If a person wants to build up to a more vigorous aerobic activity, they can start with a brisk walk before they move on to jogging.