5 Signs Your Walking Workout is Too Easy

by Jodi Helmer
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5 Signs Your Walking Workout is Too Easy

Your evening walks might help you reach your step goals, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily getting a good workout. For walking to lead to health benefits like decreased risk of heart disease, stronger bones, weight loss, improved sleep and a mood boost, you have to do more than put one foot in front of the other.

If you’re not sure whether your walks meet the criteria for an actual workout, here are five signs your walking routine might be too easy:


It’s a good sign when there are beads of sweat on your forehead, and your clothes feel a little damp after a walk. “A gentle stroll, is, quite literally, no sweat for your body,” says Jonathan Ross, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise and author of “Abs Revealed.”

Increasing the intensity of your walks activates your sweat glands; the more intense the workout, the more likely you are to break a sweat. But sweating is not the only indicator of a good workout, according to Ross.

Your goal should be to break a sweat while hitting your target heart rate, the “aerobic zone” that indicates you’re getting a cardiovascular workout. An ideal target heart rate is at least 60% of your maximum heart rate — and that number depends on your age.

To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, a 30-year-old would have a maximum heart rate of 190; 60% of 190 is 114 — this is your target beats per minute, which can be checked by putting your finger on the pulse in your neck, or wearing a heart rate monitor.


Aim to spent at least 30 minutes in this target zone. When you do, you’ll surely break a sweat.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines advocate for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. You’ll hit the recommended number of minutes by taking a slow stroll around the block for 30 minutes five evenings per week but you might not get the intensity to be considered adequate physical activity.

If sustaining a moderate-intensity pace for 30 minutes seems daunting, Erin Oprea, USANA Fitness Ambassador and celebrity personal trainer, suggests breaking it up into shorter spurts. Brisk 10-minute walks before work, during lunch and in the evening still count toward your weekly exercise goals. “If you’re busy, getting multiple brisk walks in every day should be on your to do list to get your steps in,” Oprea says.


If you’re able to chatter endlessly about the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” without huffing and puffing, you need to pick up the pace. “If we are speaking at normal conversational speed, it’s unlikely that we are working out at a sufficient intensity to deliver a challenge to the body,” Ross explains. “As our intensity goes up, we should notice that we’re able to say fewer and fewer words between breaths.”

It’s OK to talk to your walking partner (or sing along with your workout playlist) but the effort should require you to stop between sentences to catch your breath. “The sweet spot for most people is about 3–6 words spoken before taking a breath,” says Ross.


Walking is a great low-impact exercise but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t feel like a workout. A lack of muscle aches is a strong sign you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. Your goal is a light muscle ache. If you’re too sore to move the next day, you’ve overdone it and should scale back the intensity on your next walk.

You don’t have to give up walking for running or another workout. Picking up the pace, increasing the distance or changing the terrain can all help fire up your muscles and increase the calorie burn. “Find some hills and sweat a little,” says Oprea.


It’s easy to find a route you like and stick to it. Over time, your body gets used to a certain pace and terrain; the more you follow the same route, the easier it gets. “Even turning down a few different streets while otherwise following the exact same route is enough to do the trick,” says Ross.

There is no such thing as a “bad” walk. When your goal is walking for exercise and health benefits, it’s essential to make sure your walking routine isn’t too easy — and if it is, challenge yourself to amp it up.


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  • Jimmy NoChit

    I figure that if I spill my beer while walking, I am not drinking fast enough 🙂

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  • Amanda

    I found this article really discouraging. It says walking normally has no health benefits? Surely that isn’t true? Most people when walking don’t get all sweaty and out of breath. Are they totally wasting their time and might as well drive?
    I have started walking half an hour to work every day rather than get the bus and this has put me right off.

    • Robert Baldwin

      I don’t think it says that at all. It says you aren’t getting as much as you could/should. Anything is better than nothing. Even getting up to change channels rather than using the remote. On the other hand if you are already outside moving why not pick it up and reap all the bennies you can.

  • Arlene

    Yes, I’ve noticed that after walking everyday, you must do something to up the ante. Running is not an option for me. What about adding ankle weights?

    • roderick

      ankle weights can do some damage to knees, better to carry something in your hands like 2 to 5 lbs dumb bells.

  • Meade Bollard

    This is another ridiculous post by a supposed expert. I suppose because I go to the same gym every dayd that I should join another one because I’m “used to” my gym. And we’re talking walking here – not race walking. If you’re walking, even at a faster pace, you’re not going to have trouble talking. Anyone can find anything online to support any ridiculous theory.

    • I don’t think that is the message her at all. The variation is more for an outdoor walk as it will bring variation in the terrain, length, and inclines you encounter. This will throw your body out of its comfort zone. If you are walking to the gym then by all means take your regular path, but for maximum benefits you could go on the treadmill while you’re there and vary your incline and peace to really get those muscles working.

    • ogalvan

      I know right? Being comfortable with a routine or route is not going to keep you from making progress because it “seems” easy. The fact of the matter is you’re still putting in work.

  • Kaicheng Hu

    Simple ways to tell whether I should increase my walking intensity!

  • Anonymous Is A Woman

    Oh please, when I walk at 60% of my max HR, I wouldn’t break out a sweat unless it was 90 degrees out. That is even true at 75%. It’s not because I’m not working hard enough – I do huff and puff a little when I get past 75%. I just don’t feel very hot or sweat very often unless the weather is really hot. I suppose if I sprinted, I’d sweat. And a brisk walk in 60% range probably won’t make your muscle ache much unless you either are new to exercise or took a long hike. Again, your muscles get used to walking. But that does not mean it isn’t still good for you.

  • James Byrne

    20 push-ups every 1/4 mile