Walking is an excellent exercise that can help keep you mentally and physically healthier.  In addition, it is so easy!  Just grab a pair of shoes and head out the door.  That is true in part but many people are sabotaging the benefits of their walk.  Here are some key mistakes that are common.


For many people walking faster means lengthening the stride and reaching further forward with your foot. This can lead to a clumsy and unstable gait. This results in a hard impact to your feet, knees, shins, etc. You are best to focus on shorter, quicker steps.  Think of rolling through your step with your back foot and push off with those toes.

Wrong Shoes:

Wearing the wrong shoes can cause injuries such as plantar fasciitis, muscle pulls, and knee problems. Look for shoes designed for walking that are lightweight but still provide cushioning and support. Avoid stiff shoes where the sole does not bend at all and you cannot twist them.  Walking shoes should be flexible. The cushion in shoes wears down over time.  Shoes should be replaced every year or every 500 miles. Make sure your shoes are not too tight. Your feet swell and expand while walking and a tight shoe may cause pain and injury.

Walking Flat Footed:

Instead of rolling your foot forward from your heal to your toes, some people will walk with a flat foot.  Often this is the result of wearing shoes that are too rigid.  Find yourself a good flexible pair of walking shoe with a low heal.  How do you know if you are walking with a flat foot?  Three key signs include:

  • You might be slapping the ground with your foot as you take a step.
  • You land flat footed with no roll off your toes
  • You develop shin pain

Not Using Your Arms:

It is natural body mechanics to move your arms while walking to help counterbalance your leg motion. However if your arms are straight and/or still that will slow you down. Walk with your arms loose with a soft 90 degree bend in your elbow, and allow them to swing naturally with the rhythm of your legs.

Wild Arm Movement:

The opposite to straight stiff arms are people who walk with their arms flapping like a bird or with elbows bent out to the side so your hands swing from side to side across the centre of your body.  If this is you, fix this by keeping your elbows by your side with a 90 degree bend and swing your arms forward (in the direction you want to go) and back.  This will provide you with more power to your stride and therefore speed.



Walking With Your Head Down:

Walking with your head down impedes good posture. Focusing on a tall posture with your head up and shoulders back and down will keep you in touch with your surroundings (less likely to walk into someone or thing) and enables efficient breathing.  Focus your sight 10 – 20 feet down the road or path and keep your phone in a pocket. Walking with a good posture will also fix any forward or back lean you may have developed.

Not Drinking Enough:

Staying hydrated is important for your health.  Ensure you drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated and prepare for your walk by drinking a tall glass of water two hours before your walk.  Bring some water with your during your walk and drink when you feel thirsty (do a thirst check every 15 minutes – just ask yourself “am I thirsty”). Drink another glass of water when your walk is over.


Like any exercise, you can over do it.  If you have lost your enthusiasm, feel irritable, or have aches and pains, you may be over doing it.  If this happens, take a rest day or alternate walking with some other form of exercise such as strength training or cycling.