Walking it Off

October 5th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

I saw a woman who had taken the summer off her regular exercise routine and walked instead.  Yesterday was her first day back at bootcamp and she looked like she was sorry to have taken the time away!  She acknowledged “walking for fitness” isn’t anything like an exercise class.

I know a lot of people walk as exercise.  Are you sweaty by the end?  Are you climbing hills when you’re out there?  Does the weather change your routine?  Do you add in intervals of intense speed to help increase your heart’s capacity to pump blood?

All things to consider.

If you’re in an area of the world that has seasons (unlike me) with snow, walking for exercise probably takes a huge hit during the cold months.  So do you take it indoors?  In front of your television or onto a treadmill?

Running or walking, a treadmill can offer some great benefits but there is also a downside of the treadmill too.  This article discusses benefits of treadmill walking and walking outdoors.  It has some great things to keep in mind for those of us who want to cover some miles several times a week!


Using a motorized treadmill with no incline, you may burn fewer calories per mile than you do outdoors. The moving tread does some of the work for you, and you have no wind resistance. According to research, you can overcome these by adding a slight incline, as little as 1%.

Holding onto the handrails will reduce calories burned further, and wreck your walking posture. It is best to train yourself to walk a speed you can sustain without holding onto the handrails.

Calories Burned Walking

Work More Muscles Walking Outside

Walking outside has its biggest advantage in challenging your balance and stability with all of the small obstacles, dodges, starts and stops. This will give you an advantage for distance walking as well as overall health as we age — maintaining our stabilizing muscles. Here is what you face walking outside vs. on a treadmill:

  • Up and down curbs, steps, short stairways, and stepping over small obstacles. A little workout for your climbing muscles.
  • Sloped sidewalks and road sides. A challenge to your balance muscles.
  • Dodging people, puddles, and poodles. A challenge to move side-to-side as well as forward.
  • Stops and starts at street crossings. A challenge to the muscles to come to a halt and to start from zero.
  • Treadmills only go uphill or level, only very rare models have downhill incline. Going downhill challenges muscles in a completely different way.
  • On the treadmill, the tread is moving and you may not be giving yourself a good push off with your back foot. Concentrate on doing this correctly on the treadmill.

Advantages of Treadmill vs. Outside Walking

Using a treadmill for your regular workouts is a great way to burn calories and give basic training to your walking muscles and practice your walking form.

  • Workout Programs: You may enjoy the pre-programmed workouts the treadmill offers to give you a controlled workout challenge. The treadmill may also have readouts for heart rate, calories burned, etc. which give you data feedback.
  • More Speed = More Calories Burned: Most people set their treadmill workout for time rather than for distance, and can often go faster on a treadmill due to lack of obstacles. More speed = more distance for the same amount of time = more calories burned than if they walked outside for set distance rather than for time.
  • Safety: If you don’t have access to a safe walking route, a treadmill is a good substitute.
  • Weather: You can usually control the indoors weather, but never the outdoors weather.
  • Easy access to restrooms, water, and changing your gear.
  • Entertainment: Some of us are bored with treadmill walking, while others prefer watching TV or listening to their music indoors to walking outdoors.
  • Fewer excuses: If your treadmill is always available, you can’t use excuses such as the weather, darkness, etc.


No matter where you go, keeping yourself happy and fit is critical.  Have fun and work hard!

Be Sociable, Share!

1 comment

  1. Peggy says:

    I like the “More Speed = More Calories Burned” tip. I had not thought that one through.

Leave a Reply