What Muscles Does Walking Work?

Walking is one of the best exercises you can take part in. It benefits your mental health, your cardiovascular health and the best part is – it’s free!

But what muscles does walking work? Find out as we walk you through it below! 

What Muscles Does Walking Work

The Basics 

If you had to guess the answer if someone asked you this question, you’d probably think – hey, it’s gotta just be the muscles in the legs, right?

Well, the truth of it might actually surprise you. There’s so many muscles that walking works!

Walking can benefit plenty of muscle groups, such as:

  • The hamstrings
  • The quadriceps 
  • The calves
  • The ankles
  • The glutes

In order for our body’s to move forward and be propelled, all of these muscle groups work together to help you along. What’s more surprising is that as these muscle groups are moving and working together to get you going – the rest of your body is working too. 

The upper body and torso are helping to support your balance and give your pelvic area stability, allowing you to remain upright and in a vertical position. Here, you’ll notice the abs (core) being worked, joined with your hip flexors and the muscles in the upper and lower back.

Depending on what sort of walk you’re taking part in, other muscle groups might be getting a workout too! Some people take walking as a serious sport, so many will move their arms as they’re going or even take wrist weights – allowing for a full body workout and getting the full benefits of the walk. 

What Muscles Does Walking Work

What Is A Good Amount Of Walking To Do?

To take all of the full benefits of walking, you’ll want to walk around 30 minutes a day at a brisker pace than normal. You’ll want to get the heart rate elevated which turns basic walking into good exercise. When it comes to any form of exercise, the benefits are from the raised heart rate and movement of the blood. 

Having said this though, any form of walking will benefit you, regardless of fitness levels, age or ability. Even if you’re having a good walk to the store or deciding to take on a serious hike – you will get a huge fitness boost from walking. 

Some people get bored walking, or hate the outdoor climate (depending on where you live!). These problems can easily be rectified – and you’ll soon learn to love a good walk. If you feel bored of walking, try listening to music while you’re out and about. It’s motivational to exercise with music and it’s a great way to have a bit of you-time. 

If you live in a particularly cold area, ensure you get some nice, thermal clothing, which you feel comfortable in. It may sound ridiculous, but it doesn’t take long to get attached to a good set of walking clothes. 

If you live near the beach, take advantage of your surroundings and enjoy the beautiful scenery while you get some exercise! It’s incredibly therapeutic to do this and gives your mental health a serious boost too. 

Get The Best Out Of Your Walk

One of the best inventions in modern history has been the smartwatch or fitness watch. It allows you to keep track of your steps and overall fitness levels. If you have one, fantastic! You’ll want to aim for around 10,000 steps a day. Give yourself this goal if you’re of a basic fitness level, however if you’re new to it – set yourself realistic goals and increase them on a weekly basis. 

If you do own a fitness watch, create your own walking goals and routines and keep track of them everyday. Setting goals and trying to achieve them is one of the better ways to improve in anything you do. 

If you’re hoping to lose weight, try walking with a slight incline. The small elevations will work your muscle groups just that little bit harder and give your heart a faster beat – giving your weight loss a huge benefit. 

What Muscles Does Walking Work

Ideas To Try 

Keeping things fresh and interesting will help you continue with your walking journey. Why not try and throw in some of the following:

Intervals (Uphill)

If you find an area that has a slight and gradual incline – you could try and quickly walk up this and back down slowly to get your breath back. Doing this around 10 times is a fantastic workout, particularly for people with weight loss goals.


Throwing in some lunges or some stretches can give your walking a bit more of a boost. It’s always important to get the muscle groups stretched when you’re taking part in rigorous exercise as it works to prevent cramp, repetitive strain injury and stiffness the following day. It’s a good idea to look online or ask a fitness professional about the best ways to stretch the muscles. Use your surroundings to your advantage – you can stretch using nearby trees or poles. 

Hiking Sticks 

Hiking sticks or Nordic walking sticks are top tools for walkers of all levels. Not only can it help with increasing the pace or motivation of a serious walker, but older people or people with injuries will find it much easier to propel themselves forward. 

Is It Better To Walk Outside Or Use A Treadmill?

The best way to answer this is to say that any form of exercise is good! However, there’s never any substitute for walking outside. Not only can you feel at one with nature and get some fresh air, but you can also enjoy the unpredictability of inclines etc. Treadmills do their best to replicate it, but you simply can’t beat the great outdoors (and remember, it’s free!) 

Although, treadmills are helpful if that’s what you’d prefer. You can use them in any weather conditions and being part of a gym is a good way to remain motivated and benefit socially. 

The Take-Away 

Whatever type of walk you choose to do, you’ll get the benefits of working all of the muscle groups we’ve listed – but also your emotional wellbeing and overall mood. 

Eric Willis
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