Health Benefits of Walking

people walking central square

Walking is good for your heart. A recent Harvard study shows that walking at a moderate pace (3 mph) for up to 3 hours a week—or 30 minutes a day—can cut the risk of heart disease in women by as much as 40%. This is the same benefit you would get from aerobics, jogging, or other vigorous exercise. The benefits to men are comparable.

Along with its benefits to the heart, walking:

  • Improves circulation
  • Helps breathing
  • Combats depression
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Helps prevent and control diabetes
  • Helps control weight (see below)

Studies have also shown that people are most likely to stick to exercise when it is part of their daily lives. Walking is ideal, especially in a city like Cambridge, where most people can take some of their trips on foot—to work, school, the store, church, or the movies. This enables people to incorporate walking into activities they would be doing anyway. Once you start looking for opportunities to walk, you will be amazed at how many there are. If you combine walking with taking the T, you can get to most destinations in the metropolitan Boston area.

Walk and Lose Weight

I’ve been through every diet under the sun, and I can tell you that getting up, getting out, and walking is always the first goal.
- Oprah Winfrey

Walking can keep you fit, and it helps you take off extra weight and keep it off. Obesity has become an epidemic among Americans; it is especially troubling that so many American children are now overweight or obese. Numerous studies have shown that lack of exercise is a major factor.

Number of calories a 150-pound person burns walking at a moderate pace (3 mph):

10 minutes .5 miles 44
20 minutes 1 mile 88
30 minutes 1.5 miles 132
40 minutes 2 miles 176
50 minutes 2.5 miles 219
60 minutes 3 miles 263

Number of calories a 150-pound person burns walking at a brisk pace (4 mph):

10 minutes .67 miles 61
20 minutes 1.33 mile 122
30 minutes 2 miles 183
40 minutes 2.67 miles 244
50 minutes 3.33 miles 305
60 minutes 4 miles 366

½ mile is the distance from:

  • Inman Square to Central Square
  • Concord & Sparks to Fresh Pond
  • Porter Square to Raymond Park

¾ mile is the distance from:

  • Morse School to Central Square
  • River & Putnam to Harvard Square
  • Lechmere to Donnelly Field

1 mile is the distance from:

  • Harvard Square to Porter Square
  • The main library to Fletcher/Maynard School
  • Alewife T station to Davis Square

Healthy Walking Tips

The only equipment you need to walk is a good pair of walking shoes. Look for the following when you buy a pair or walking shoes:

  • A snug fit
  • A well-cushioned heel
  • Good arch support
  • Enough room for your toes to wiggle
  • Flexible, slip-resistant soles

For More Information

For more information, contact the Environmental and Transportation Planning Division, 617/349-4600.