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Tips and Benefits of Walking

Walking is a simple, accessible, and beneficial activity for both the body and mind. Whether it's on the bustling streets of a city or the serene trails of nature, this practice offers a series of advantages for health and well-being. When you walk and admire a landscape or a monument, you are presented with a multitude of creative ideas. The brain calms down and gets inspired, and from this, an unexpected idea can emerge.

People walking along a sea promenade  in Cascais
Walking along a sea promenade in Cascais | @walkboxapp

Combining tourist activities with walks is an excellent way to get to know places, whether natural or urban, and at the same time, practice a more sustainable form of tourism. In this article, we will explore the benefits of walking, providing valuable tips to make the most of your walks in cities and in nature, and improve your performance.

What is a walk?

A walk is a physical activity that can be done by anyone, regardless of age, usually at a steady and moderate pace. It can be done in various environments, such as urban parks, nature trails, along the beach, or even on a treadmill. The simplicity of this physical exercise makes it accessible and quickly captures the interest of people of all ages.

Girl walking on a board walk along the sea
Walking on a board walk near the sea | @rominatravels

6 Tips and Benefits of Walking Regularly

Walking should become a routine habit, ideally done at least 4 times a week, with a minimum duration of 30 minutes. Not all walks are the same, depending on each person's goal, but all of them can be quite enjoyable.

Here are 6 benefits of walking and why it should be practiced regularly.

1. Boosts mood and mental well-being

A physical activity done regularly stimulates the release of endorphins – the happiness hormones - which can improve mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Additionally, walking helps increasing self-esteem, promoting a sense of well-being.

2. Improves cardiovascular health

Regular walking can enhance heart and lung function, promoting more efficient blood circulation and contributing to better overall cardiovascular health This reduces the risk of heart disease or the occurrence of strokes or heart attacks.

3. Strengthens muscles and bones

Walking regularly can help strengthen the muscles, bones and joints leading to improved overall physical strength and endurance.

4. Reinforces the immune system

Regular walking makes the immune system's response faster and more effective, through the production of anti-inflammatory substances.

5. Enhances cognitive function

Scientific studies have shown that the habit of walking can improve cognitive function and memory, promoting better overall brain health. This is because physical activity promotes greater blood circulation in the brain, increasing the volume of the hippocampus - the brain region associated with memory.

6. Aids in weight management

Walking regularly can help in maintaining a healthy weight and even contribute to weight loss as the body produces energy during a walk and metabolism accelerates.

To make the most of the benefits of walking, it is essential to consider some key factors. The choice of the walking location and the appropriate equipment should be carefully considered based on your goals.

Girl walking in the forest
Walking in the forest | @rapariga_caminhante

Here are some tips for walking in the city

Walking doesn't have to be a boring activity. On the contrary, walking in a city allows for (re)discovery, a unique experience with the dynamics of the city, its inhabitants, history, and heritage. It is a healthy act, not only from a physical perspective but also emotional and social.

However, it's important to pay attention to the urban environment and take some measures to make your experience more enjoyable and safe.

1. Choose suitable clothing and footwear

It's important to opt for light and comfortable clothing, as well as appropriate footwear for walking in a city. Some streets can be quite steep, posing a challenge.

2. Stay hydrated regularly

Walking in the city demands regular hydration, especially in hot weather. Staying hydrated helps prevent dizziness, fatigue, and even muscle pain.

3. Pay attention to traffic

When crossing streets and intersections, respect the traffic signals and always be mindful of cars. Use crosswalks and obey pedestrian traffic lights.

4. Carry a backpack with essential items

During your city walk, carry a backpack with essential items such as water, healthy snacks, identification documents, and sunscreen.

5. Take breaks

Taking breaks during the walk helps to restore energy and relieve accumulated tension in muscles and joints. Sometimes, city walks can be long due to the number of points of interest to visit.

6. Stretch your muscles

At the end of the walk, don't forget to stretch your legs to reduce fatigue. If you feel necessary, perform self-massage to aid in recovery.

7. Enjoy the city

Last but not least, enjoy everything that a city walk has to offer. Appreciate the architecture and get to know the heritage.

Two girls walking in Lisbon
Walking in Lisbon @walkboxapp

Here are some tips for short-distance nature walks

Walking in nature is also a unique experience of connecting with the environment. In addition to being revitalizing, it is an activity accessible to everyone. Pay attention to these tips to make the most of your walk.

1. Plan ahead

Before heading out, plan the trail you want to take and assess its level of difficulty. It's important to check the weather and choose the essential items for your hike, such as water, snacks, sunscreen, identification documents, and a basic first aid kit.

2. Warm up

Considering the trail you've chosen, opt for a brief warm-up. This will help prevent muscle soreness and injuries.

3. Respect nature and trail signs

Stay on the desired trail and avoid causing harm to the environment, such as pollution or destruction of animal habitats. Also, follow the directional signs to avoid getting lost or use an app like Walkbox with route instructions, orientation notes, real-time GPS location, and offline maps.

4. Inform someone

If you're going alone, before your nature walk, inform someone - a family member or a friend. Inform them of your itinerary and the expected return time. This action will allow someone to be on standby if you don't return within the expected hours.

5. Stay alert

While some trails are generally safe, it's important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Be aware of potential holes or landslides.

6. Enjoy nature

Appreciate the natural beauty around you. Take breaks to observe the wildlife and flora of the area. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the silence.

7. Stretch at the end of the walk

Dedicate a few minutes at the end of the walk to stretch your body. Stretch your legs, arms, back, and don't forget your neck. Use self-massage to relieve muscle tension and help you relax.

A man walking on an outdoor trail
Walking on outdoor trails | @rominatravels

Bónus: Tips for long-distance nature hikes

If your goal is to go on long nature hikes, i.e., hikes longer than 7 km, it's also important to take some precautions and make a detailed plan. Follow these tips to enhance your experience on long hikes.

1. Planning

Before setting out, start by making a detailed plan. Familiarize yourself with the trail you want to take, check the weather conditions, and don't forget the first aid kit, repellent, and identification documents. Bring a power bank to charge your phone in case of need. Consider taking hiking poles to help with stability and endurance, thus distributing the efforts of the upper limbs and relieving potential tension in the spine and knees.

2. Warm-up

Don't forget to stretch. This act is very important and helps prepare the muscles and joints.

3. Stay hydrated

During long hikes, it's crucial to stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle and avoid feeling thirsty.

4. Take breaks

Taking breaks during a long hike is very important to regain energy and give your legs and feet a rest. We suggest several short breaks and a longer break halfway through the journey. During the longer break, take off your shoes and let your feet breathe to dry the skin and prevent blisters. If your socks are wet, change them to dry ones. Take advantage of the longer break to stretch and perform self-massage on your legs.

5. Muscle recovery at the end of the hike

At the end of your long hike, focus on recovery. Set aside some time for deeper stretches and self-massage.

A woman walking on a mountain trail
Walking on mountain trails @handbaggagetravel

It's always important to remember that whether in the city or in nature, it's crucial to listen to your body and respect your limits. Start with shorter routes and gradually increase the intensity.

Take care of your body and mind before and after your walk. Always be equipped with tips and information, which will make your experience even more rewarding.

So, put on some comfortable clothing, lace up your shoes or boots, and go explore the benefits that walking has to offer, whether in urban or natural environments. Remember, it's not about reaching the end of the trail, but rather enjoying the journey and engaging in physical activity.

 backpack with essencials items for hiking
Backpack with essencials items @walkboxapp


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