Community The Magic of Walking for Runners

    The Magic of Walking for Runners


    Walking is good for runners because it helps you stretch after a run. It builds endurance and promotes exercise that’s not quite the pounding of running. It also is a good bridge to running after an injury and a great way to get steps. 

    I am a walk-marathoner who is married to a Boston Marathoner. We both entered our first races in our late 50s and early 60s and are now in our 70s. While I completed two 7 ½ hour walk marathons and 33 other races since then, my husband Peter completed two Boston Marathons, eight other Marathons, and a total of one hundred races.

    From June, 2020 to October, 2020, during COVID-19, Peter walked with me in downtown Toronto—20,000 steps a day for 4 months—to complete the el Camino 778 kilometre walk virtually. I wrote a book entitled The Magic of Walking, Your Guide to a Balanced Purposeful Life, and this is why I think walking is good for iRun Nation. 

    Walking Brings You Closer to Nature in a Slow, Deliberate Way

    Walking gives you the chance to interact with your environment: you can go into a ravine, forest, or beach and do some “forest bathing.” This means using your five senses and feeling alert and alive. 

    Walking Helps You Focus on Your Mental Health 

    Walking reduces depression and anxiety and boosts your mood. Brisk walking improves your brain health. Regular walking improves cognition and stimulates more healthy blood flow to the brain.

    Walking Connects You With Others (including Pets) in a Powerful, Purposeful Way 

    Walking is also a great way to introduce children and grandchildren to fitness and to bond with them. Start by signing up for a 5k walk-race with family members and make it a long-standing tradition.

    Walking Enhances Your Health and Improves Sleep 

    Walking is an excellent way to build heart health and to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Walking decreases insomnia and improves your sleep quality. It improves your strength and balance in your feet, knees, and hips, which are all key to moving with strength and injury-free. Walking places less impact on the joints and building endurance.

    Walking is Free, and Easy to Incorporate Into Your Daily Routine (and Doesn’t Require $300 Shoes) 

    Take the stairs, go to the store and walk the dog. Take daily walk breaks at work—whether you work from home or with other people.

    Walking Leads to Fewer Injuries Than Running 

    It puts less pressure on the joints. Sorry, it’s true.

    Walking Is Easily Combined with Other Exercises 

    Like running! And weightlifting, swimming, and whatever else you might try.

    Walking is Good For Weight Loss and Travel!

    Walking Can Be Sustained As You Age 

    Many runners continue to enter races as walkers throughout their lives. Walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints—especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis.

    I know you love to run, and that’s terrific. But all I’m saying is: give walking a chance. 

    Susan Sommers is an award-winning health and fitness expert. She co-authored Power Source for Women: Proven Strategies, Tools, and Success Stories for Women 45+ and Love Your Body…Embrace Your Life. Her latest book, The Magic of Walking: Your Guide to a Balanced, Purposeful Life, was launched through Women’s College Hospital’s Run for Women in 2021. Susan launched her company, Power Source for Women ( in 2019 to inspire, educate, coach, and mentor women of all ages to make a lifelong commitment to their health, fitness, and spirituality. 


    1. I add speedwalking (at or above 130 steps/minute) to my weekly running routine and it is perfect–especially on the days when I have earlier been at the gym or playing my other sports (especially curling in the winter). I realized a few years ago that it wasn’t necessary to run 5 Km every day in order to maintain my cardio fitness; I can instead intersperse it with interval running, timed or distance (5K) through each week. Speedwalking was especially great when I had to have chemotherapy two years ago; as my hemoglobin levels went quite low, so running even a short distance left me wiped out–solution was to speedwalk every day instead!

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