Tips to Live By

PODCAST: What's Better for Walking — Steps, Speed, Mileage?

Nov. 21, 2023


LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | YouTube | Amazon Music

Running may get all the hype, but walking is Americans' favorite form of exercise, according to numerous surveys. It's low-impact, free and easy to get started, and it provides both long-term health benefits and the chance to unwind and recharge. Whether you're a seasoned walker or just getting started, how much do you really know about the popular form of exercise? In this episode, we learn what matters most when it comes to using walks to better your health.

Expert: Jonathan Williams, Fitness Coordinator

Interviewer: Zach Moore

Notable topics covered:

  • The varied health benefits of walking
  • What makes for a good walk?
  • Why walking posture matters (and what it should look like)
  • Think walking is pretty basic? The way you plant your feet is important
  • Is it better to walk fast or walk far?
  • What type of walk is best for weight loss? Heart health? Mobility?
  • The number of steps per day we should aim to reach
  • Walking shoes: what to consider


Like what you hear?

View all episodes and SUBSCRIBE wherever you get your podcasts, including on:

Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | YouTube | Amazon Music | Pocket Casts | iHeartRadio | Podcast Index | Podcast Addict | Podchaser | Deezer

Episode Transcript

ZACH MOORE: Welcome to On Health with Houston Methodist. I’m Zach Moore. I’m a photographer and editor here, and I’m also a long-time podcaster.

KATIE MCCALLUM: I’m Katie McCallum. I’m a former researcher, turned health writer, mostly writing for our blogs.

TODD ACKERMAN: I’m Todd Ackerman. I’m a former medical reporter, currently an editor at Houston Methodist.

KIM RIVERA HUSTON-WEBER: I’m Kim Rivera Huston-Weber and I’m a copywriter here at Houston Methodist.

ZACH: Alright. Well, I got a question for all of you. How much do you walk?

KATIE: Who wants to start?


TODD: I’ve become a major walker.

ZACH: A major walker?

KATIE: A major walker?

ZACH: Define major walker.

TODD: On days I don’t go to the gym I still get 10,000 steps in.

ZACH: Okay.


ZACH: That’s a lot of steps.

TODD: Yes. It’s a significant chunk of time that I’m investing doing it.

ZACH: So, with these 10,000 steps, you’re seeing a good return on all this time walking, Todd?

TODD: Yeah, but I was always in good shape. It was just --

ZACH: Well, of course. Yes. Yes.

TODD: Yeah, it was just during the pandemic that I was sedentary or supine much of the time.

ZACH: Okay.

TODD: That I decided that with my gym clothes I need to get out and walk. So --

KATIE: So, you’re using it like exercise?

TODD: Yes.

KATIE: Okay, nice.

ZACH: See, I’ve always seen walking more as a mode of transportation than exercising. I think that’s been a mental block for me jogging, running, walking, you know.

TODD: That was my old philosophy as well.

ZACH: Okay.

TODD: I walked my share in just everyday life. But I mostly got my exercise in at the gym.

KATIE: Yeah. Got ya. Got ya.

KIM: Yeah. I started walking quite a bit during the pandemic too. I found what really threw a wrench in my walking habits was moving to Houston since there’s not always reliable sidewalks places and it’s just burning hot for the majority of the year because I really got into hiking during the pandemic. There are beautiful places to walk here in Houston, but I find that it’s only tolerable during the fall or the winter.

KATIE: Yeah, you know, Kim, as you’re mentioning that I -- that resonated with me because I have sort of been beating myself up about not walking lately, like in -- within the last year or two. And I think it’s because, you know, I haven’t moved out of Houston, but I did move. And I used to live in a neighborhood where there were really great sidewalks and, you know, I’d go walk my dog every day. Like, sometimes, you know, long walks in the morning and evening. I’m not doing any of that anymore. And I don’t wanna make excuses because there aren’t any. Sidewalks though I think are a big part of walking. But you asked, Todd, you know, “Do you see a return on investment with all your 10,000 steps?” I have seen an unreturn on my divestment in not walking.


And I miss it. I need to get back into it. Because, like, I really do think that was a time, like, it would start my day in positive way, and it would end my day in positive way. Even if I wasn’t using it for exercise kind of as you were saying you were using it, Todd, I use it more for just like the mental health decompressing sort of stuff.

TODD: Mhmm.

KIM: For sure and I think, you know, getting that especially in the morning, getting that little bit of sunlight.

KATIE: Mhmm.

KIM: Having a nice little reset for your morning. That’s always how I approach my walks and I think there is even a whole thing now where people are taking these mindful walks where they don’t listen to any music, they’re just out.

KATIE: Yeah. I like to just -- yeah, I don’t like to even listen to music when I’m -- even if I’m running outdoors. I like to just kind of like be outdoors and be enjoying it, and same thing with walking. Like, I don’t wanna listen to something. I wanna just like, you know, I’m like birdwatching, even if I don’t have binoculars. I’m like birdwatching, or people watching, or dog watching ‘cause there’s always something to be watching.

ZACH: That’s interesting. I probably over stimulate myself when I’m outside, like, ‘cause I’m always listening to something in a po -- I love podcasts shocking, so I listen to podcasts a lot. There’s something to be said for just like taking in -- taking in the nature as is the reset you’re talking about Kim. One of my barriers for going outside is the weather. It’s -- I like being -- I’m not Mr. Outdoors, but I do enjoy being outside when the weather is pleasant and that’s just a struggle here. And really what -- we just gotta accept it and work around it. We can’t use that excuse forever. Also finding the time. You can always find the excuse to do something you’re not too thrilled about. You’re like, “Well, I just home from work,” or “Oh, no, so and so is home and we’re gonna go do this,” or, “Ah, I’m just gonna relax for a while. Oh, it’s dark now.” I mean, whatever, right? But we understand what walking is like a -- as a verb, right? What we’re talking about today is talking about walking as a noun.

KATIE: Mhmm.

ZACH: Like what constitutes a good walk? So, we talked to Jonathan Williams. He is the Health
Fitness Coordinator at Houston Methodist. And he gave us some good tips about walking far, walking fast, the pros and benefits of either/or for certain situations of what you’re looking for. So, it was really a fun conversation that I learned a lot from. Let’s get into it.

[Sound effect signaling beginning of interview]

ZACH: Alright, we’re here with Jonathan Williams, a senior Health Fitness Coordinator at Houston Methodist Willowbrook. Welcome Jonathan.

JONATHAN WILLIAMS: Thank you. Thanks for having me, Zach.

ZACH: Now, are you a big walker? Do you walk a lot?

JONATHAN: I think I walk a lot naturally, so I would say yes.

ZACH: Okay.

JONATHAN: But everyday I’m -- I would say maybe close to 5,000 - 6,000 steps a day.

ZACH: Mhmm.

JONATHAN: You know, on average. So, I would say I walk quite a bit.

ZACH: You have a fitness tracker that gives you dopamine hit when it buzzes when you reach your goal?

JONATHAN: I think we all do at some point even if we don’t want it, we forget to turn it off, or we’re setting the goals. So, you know, phones, and watches, and technology, and everything let us know if we’re doing a good job or not. So, I would say so.

ZACH: Gotcha. Now, obviously, you work in healthcare.


ZACH: Did you start walking in and setting these goals before, after, during your journey to where you are now as a career?

JONATHAN: You know, I will probably say after I got into it.

ZACH: Mhmm.

JONATHAN: Just because once I realized how important it was and more learning, I’m like, “Okay. Let me actually prioritize this instead of just going to the gym and lifting weights or, you know.


Try’na get a whole bunch of protein in and not drink enough water.” So, it all goes hand in hand. So, yeah. I will probably say after, but I enjoy it. It’s actually a huge part of my day.

ZACH: Gotcha. So, what are the health benefits of walking?

JONATHAN: Oh man, lots of mobility things are involved with walking. So, people who may be struggling with, like, ankle pain or swelling, things like that, helping with blood flow, blood circulation is also a really good benefit. I know that a lot of times when, like, I’m actually in pain or really sore, walking actually helps a lot. Like, it helps me to actually relieve that soreness. For people who have a lot of, like, foot problems and things like that, walking can actually help you strengthen those muscles, like, in your feet, in your ankles, and can also help with, like, posture. As long as you make sure you keep your feet straight when you walk. So, there’s a lot of things around walking. It can honestly like get kind of complex in a good way when you think about all the things associated with walking, but they’re mostly positive if you’re doing everything you can.

ZACH: You mentioned, like, how you walk.


ZACH: Like, you talking like heel to toe, like rolling your feet, like what -- how does all that play into this?

JONATHAN: It’s popular to say heel to toe, but we actually wanna walk on the balls of our feet because that keeps our pelvis in line. That keeps us actually balanced and neutral throughout the day.

ZACH: So, walking on the balls of your feet. If you could describe that for the listeners.

JONATHAN: Mmm. Flat foot.

ZACH: Uh-ha.

JONATHAN: But not quite on the heel. Midpoint, but not quite on the toes.

ZACH: Okay.

JONATHAN: You know, it’s reall -- it’s really hard to describe the ball of the foot. You know, but I would say, like, if you wanted to jump, or jump rope, or when you get excited if you’re like at your child’s soccer game or something like that. The part of your foot that you feel when you get excited and wanna jump up and down, that’s the ball of your foot.

ZACH: Okay, that locked it in for me. That’s a good explanation. I’m like, you know, I can -- I can feel that now.


Ahh. That’s interesting ‘cause you think -- you’re not tiptoeing.


ZACH: But you’re not going, like, you know, like if you would draw a cartoon and someone walking by foot down the foot like a robot walk or something, right? Yeah. That’s just something that, you know, like breathing. It’s just something we do automatically and don’t really think about like the whole process.

JONATHAN: Exactly.

ZACH: How -- did you ever feel the need to, like, retrain yourself and how you walk or your feet?

JONATHAN: Yes. Actually, I did a lot of, you know, for most of my life I didn’t really think about how I was walking. And I realized that I got a lot of random back pain, like, not serious but it’s just kind of nagging. Right? Sometimes we got like those nagging kind of sore spots in the body. And I realized my feet were turned out too much and I wasn’t really walking on the balls of my feet. I was walking more on like the outsides of my feet. So, then you start to -- start to research shoes, because you always wanna blame it on something else and not you.

ZACH: Right.

JONATHAN: So, you start to research these shoes and discover like, “What technology is in this shoe?” Or, “What types of fancy arch or insert can I get?” Then you start to realize, “Hmm, maybe this insert is correcting something I should be correcting in myself.” And then you start to learn more, like, “How should I be walking? What are the benefits of keeping my toes straight? Or making sure that my -- even my upper body posture is compliant.”


You know, when you’re walking because it does affect your feet. So, yeah.

ZACH: So, there’s a lot of ways to define walking. I guess we’ve been talking about walking, like, as a verb so far. Let’s talk about walking, like, as a noun.

TODD: Okay.

ZACH: As a form of exercise.

TODD: Right.

ZACH: ‘Cause there’s that a hundred and fifty minutes exercise per week. Right? That general goal that people have. But what are the other criteria that should be met on that walk? Like, if you say, “I’m gonna walk.”


ZACH: Like, what’s gonna define it as a walk?

JONATHAN: Oh man, I would say that first, you have to tap into -- I might get philosophical here. But you might have to tap into the mental aspect of your walk to know that it’s not only good for you physically, but it also helps relieve a lot of mental stress throughout the day, especially being in healthcare. You never know, like, depending on which department you’re in, the things that you might be facing. You might just need to get away for two to three minutes. And you know, or just on your lunch break if you have that, for the first five minutes of your lunch break just know that you need that walk for yourself. After that I would say that what makes a walk a walk is really how intentional you are, and the cadence of your walk. You do wanna make sure you’re using your whole body when you walk. So, the arm swing is important.

ZACH: I was jus -- I was just gonna ask about the arm swing. Yeah. ‘Cause when you say, “Whole body,” that’s the first thing I’d go to other than your legs obviously.

JONATHAN: Right. The arm swing is important. The way your shoulders is, is important. The way you’re holding your head is important just to make sure you have a neutral spine, and your chin is aligned if you’re looking straight. And, you know, just making sure that you’re proud in your walk which goes back to like the mental component.

ZACH: Yeah.

JONATHAN: So, I would say that to sum it up that would define a walk. A proud, somewhat structured walk to where you’re actually moving at a pretty brisk space.

ZACH: Okay, great. No, that’s very helpful.


ZACH: So, what are the benefits of a long slow walk, prioritizing distance, like the number of steps or how many miles you go even?

JONATHAN: Mhmm. Blood flow.

ZACH: Okay.

JONATHAN: Blood flow really does help with muscle relief and even muscle pain if you have it. It can also be very relaxing too, mentally. So, I know we ta -- it’s very popular to talk about a runner’s high. I don’t think that anything coined as a walker’s high. But I think there should be ‘cause a lot of people actually feel better when they go for a walk.

ZACH: Like a walker’s chill.

JONATHAN: A walker’s chill. There we go.

ZACH: Let’s coin that phrase.

JONATHAN: Right. I like that. So, I think that walking is a huge benefit. I think that if people did more walking, they would actually just feel better. I think they wouldn’t feel so much pain throughout the day if we would just walk more. Which is why they have things like the standing desk and…

ZACH: Yeah.

JONATHAN: You know, making sure that we offer different, like, walking clubs and even running groups, you know, within the healthcare system to -- and other systems as well.

ZACH: So, if you’re going for distance, how do you know how far to walk?

JONATHAN: I think it depends on where you’re starting. If it’s new to you I would say you more so wanna go for a time marker. Just really challenge yourself to hit the time. Like, “Okay, I’m gonna walk for five minutes.” And then maybe a week later try to walk for ten and keep on progressing from there. Once you’re kind of realizing, “Okay, when I walk for ten minutes I’m walking about this many steps or I’m accumulating this much mileage.” Then from there you can set a better metric that’s more custom to you, so that you’re not making any poor comparisons to what a Google review might say or what your friend might be doing, because we wanna make sure we’re progressing within ourselves. So, I would actually maybe alter that for duration. And then once you have a steady duration for maybe two weeks or so, you can wanna track maybe how many miles you’re accumulating within that duration. And then from there you can set your own marker. But within ten minutes, you should be able to walk maybe half a mile.

ZACH: Mhmm.

JONATHAN: I would say you should at least be able to walk half a mile, if not one mile, you know, in ten minutes depending on the person.

ZACH: It’s probably something like, you start counting your calories for example. Right? Like, you need to really pay attention to those hard numbers when you start, and then once you get kind of used to it, it becomes a habit or pattern. You don’t have to be looking at your watch or your step count. You just kinda know at that point, like, “Okay, I’m gonna go X amount of blocks in my neighborhood and come back and the I’ll go down that stop sign.”


ZACH: And then it just becomes more of a second nature.

JONATHAN: Right. Which is why earlier when we discussed, like, “What classifies a walk?” I think, like, the cadence, and the rhythm, and being intentional about the walk helps you build a foundation, so you know when you walk, you’re gonna walk the same way every time.

ZACH: Mhmm.

JONATHAN: Or have the same type of stride every time. So that way you know like, “When I go for a walk for ten minutes or when I go for a walk for 15 minutes, I’m going to walk this amount. I’m going to accumulate this many steps.” And you become more confident that way.

ZACH: Gotcha.


ZACH: So, let’s change gears literally here and talk about what are the benefits of a short fast walk, like, a power walk?

JONATHAN: Easy answer. When you’re short on time, or when you’re training for something that requires you to have more of that muscular endurance or lung capacity. So, if you know like, “Hey, I got a 30-minute break and I got to really, you know, prioritize my time so I can also eat.” You might wanna go for ten-minute, like brisk walk to where your arms are really pumping. Your feet may be coming down to the ground a little bit faster. You may be pushing off the floor a little bit faster. Like you could take off running, but you shouldn’t cause you don’t wanna start sweating too bad.

ZACH: Mhmm.

JONATHAN: And then another benefit for the faster walks or for people who want that higher intensity type of work out for themselves or type of training regimen for themselves but they’re not in a position to just take off sprinting, like an Olympic runner, or something like that. Or you might be at work again on your break or after work and, “Hey, I want something that’s a little more higher intensity than a slow paced treadmill walk. But I don’t wanna be, you know, doing high knees on the grass at work either.”

ZACH: Yeah.


JONATHAN: You know, I still -- I still wanna, you know, find that happy medium. So, for the brisk walk I think that is the happy medium for some people.

ZACH: Okay. So, if you’re going for speed.


ZACH: How do you know what a good minutes per mile goal is?


ZACH: If that’s even the right terminology.

JONATHAN: Right. Now we get a little more into detail as we start talking about like heart rate. We really wanna look for those beats per minute to be anywhere between 120 and 160 which seems like a huge range, but it varies for a lot of people.

ZACH: Mhmm.

JONATHAN: For some people they can get there pretty easily. For others who have a lower resting heart rate it might take them a little bit longer to get there. But right around, like, that 120 mark for most people that’s how you know you’re kinda pumping.

ZACH: Mhmm.

JONATHAN: And then at that point we would need like a tracker on or, you know, some type of device to --

ZACH: Way more essential for this phase of walking.

JONATHAN: Right. Because now we’re getting now, we’re getting into, like, that red zone which is more like a high intensity zone. So, you’re kinda training at this point. Like, you’re in, like, the mentality of an athlete. So, you’ll need those metrics to know that you’re actually hitting your goal.

ZACH: Gotcha.


ZACH: So, it doesn’t sound like one is necessarily better than the other. It really just depends on what your goals are.

JONATHAN: That’s right.

ZACH: Right, so, like if you’re -- if you’re trying to lose weight…


ZACH: Which one would be better?

JONATHAN: Brisk walk.

ZACH: Mhmm.


ZACH: And then if you’re trying to improve your heart health…


ZACH: Which one would be better?

JONATHAN: The slower walk.

ZACH: Okay.


ZACH: And then if you’re trying to maintain your mobility over time -- that the other two -- the other two I’m saying, “Okay, I could probably guess what the answer was for this one.” If you’re trying to just maintain your mobility and flexibility and limberness if you will over time, which one of them might be better?

JONATHAN: So, we’re still gonna meet in the middle with the brisk walk for that one as well.

ZACH: Okay.


ZACH: Why is that?

JONATHAN: It provides us balance so we’re able to do that over an extended amount of time. But it’s intense enough to where we’re still challenging the body to a certain extent. So…

ZACH: Okay.

JONATHAN: We’re putting enough pressure on the body for it to grow or for us to build those muscles and keep strong ligaments and tendons on the lower part of our frame. Were not going so easy to where it’s more so just for general health and exercise, which is still great by the way. And we’re not going so hard to where if we go that hard, and that super intense every day, and we’re pretty much sprinting every day, you know, unless we’re getting ready to go, you know, race Usain Bolt or something. You know, we can’t -- you can’t keep that up on a daily basis without running into other issues like knee pain and back pain or needing to book a massage twice a week because your body just won’t be able to recover that rapidly.

ZACH: Yeah. Especially as we age.

JONATHAN: Yeah. Exactly.

ZACH: Right. You’d think like, “Oh, I used to be to do this in my 20s when I was playing sports.” And like, “Well, you’re not in your 20s anymore. You’re not gonna go pro. You need to learn to pace yourself.”


ZACH: So, interval training.


ZACH: How does that apply to walking? Because now and then I dabble into, “Yeah, you should -- you should run, or walk, or jog.” And then that’s not my preferred form of exercise. I am more like row machines, stationary bike, you know, treadmill, some weights, right? But when you’re out there, you’re jogging for like the whole, like, you know, you run for two minutes. You walk for one. That kind of stuff. Is there -- what is the value of alternating between a faster and slower pace?

JONATHAN: So, that will actually, in a very positive way kinda trick your body into thinking that you’re doing sprint training, and that you’re training like an athlete when you have intervals because you’re going through spikes. So, you’re spiking the heart rate and then you’re letting the heart rate recover to give yourself enough time to recover within that secondary tempo to be able to crank it up again. So, for someone -- let’s say for example, if you wanted to be in shape as, like a sprinter, someone who can really just like really crank it out. But you’re not in a physical condition to do so, you don’t have the time, you don’t have the recovery regimen to do so. You could really implement either tempo walks or what they call fartlek training to where you’re going maybe 30 seconds at a higher intensity, one minute at a lower intensity and then you keep trickling down to where you’re going maybe 15 seconds at a higher intensity, 30 seconds recovery. And then 20 seconds and then ten, you know, things like that, right? So, you’re actually manipulating the body to say, “Gonna go faster and slow it down. Gonna go faster, slow it down.” And then at that point you’re able to not only max out what you can do within your lung capacity, but you’re also letting your muscles be able to kinda regroup, and grow, and train that way at a faster twitch rate. So, I hope that didn’t sound too complicated but.

ZACH: No, I follow you.

JONATHAN: It’s the same. It’s the same mentality as weight training for those who do interval training in the weight rooms. Where I wanna do a huge compound lift and then something a little bit lighter. So, lift heavy and then go and grab some dumbbells and work on my shoulders. Go back and do a bench press or do a squat and then work on my calves and, you know, you can alternate that way. It’s the same thing.

ZACH: Yeah, and it kinda goes back to where we were talking about maintaining mobility. Right? It’s the same concept of like, “Okay, yeah. You mastered the 30-pound weight, man. You gotta move on to the next step.” And that kinda thing. Or you’re just gonna get -- your body is not gonna feel that pressure to keep, you know, improving itself that way.


ZACH: So, all that fantastic information. What are some overall tips you wanna leave the audience with if they’re looking to get into walking to improve their health?

JONATHAN: Oh man, so, disclaimer. I’m not the nutrition guy. I’m the fitness guy.


But I would say start with water intake. Make sure your body is properly hydrated. So, within everything we do  wanna make sure we’re prepared to do so. So, the body should be hydrated. The cells within the body should be properly hydrated before you get started. Make sure you have the right clothes. So, I’m starting off real general foundation stuff, right? Make sure you’re hydrated. Make sure you have the right clothes to go on a walk. Make sure you have comfortable shoes. Comfortable shoes is relative for everyone, you know. They have some good brands out there. Try on some shoes, make sure you like ‘em and then start small. That would be my biggest advice to anyone who’s just getting started. Start small. Start off with five or ten minutes, see how you feel. Mark how long you made it. If that walk is gonna be in your neighborhood, you can set a marker. “Hey, I’m walking to the corner store and back. Hey, I’m walking to the park and back. Hey, I’m gonna,” -- If you have a dog that’s like a really good, like, entry level assignment for a lot of people.

ZACH: More health benefits with pets. Absolutely. Yeah. We’re all about that.

JONATHAN: Right. So, that will be my biggest advice, it’s to make sure you’re prepared. Make sure you’re comfortable, and start small.

ZACH: Great. Let’s spread a couple more thoughts I had with the shoes. Athletic shoes, Tennis shoes, sneakers, like for -- what’s your recommendation on for walkers?

JONATHAN: You wanna go as official as possible. This is actually a highly debated topic within the fitness world. That’s in like which shoes are the best for what?

ZACH: Uh-huh.

JONATHAN: You have a lot of people who advocate for the flatter shoes with the sole more so thinner. Especially in more if your cross training in CrossFit communities like, kinda like the fatter kind of base shoes. Within the running community you’ll see more people wearing, like, the Hoka style shoes and like the thicker sole shoes. So, I think for a person who is more flat-footed either by nature or by diagnoses I would try to go for something with a little more cushion. If you do have a pretty good arch or a pretty decent arch, you may wanna find something more in the middle.

ZACH: Great. Great. And then like everything else it’s all relative for you. Right?

JONATHAN: All relative for you.

ZACH: Talk about those shoes?


ZACH: Step count, same thing.


ZACH: It’s like well, there --


How tall are you? How much do you weigh? What are your goals? Right? I mean, like, yeah. I mean, probably 5,000 is a good baseline for anybody.

JONATHAN: Right. Right. I think so. I think most people naturally accumulate anywhere between two to three thousand in a day depending on their job. And I mean, we get walking around the house, walking to and from the car, going to lunch, chasing the kids or pet around, whatever you got going on. Right? So, I think most of us we’re in the thousands per day. If we have a goal or something that we like to do more of, we just have to be intentional about it. That’s all.

ZACH: We are not a walk in here Houston. Right? Not a walk centric city. We’re very commuter, you know, and we’re very spread out. Right? It would be fantastic to just go down to the corner store and get all your needs but that’s not -- that’s just not where we are, who we are. Right? So, we kinda have to work a little harder to make this stuff part of your everyday routine. Right? So, it’s just how it is. Not good or bad. Right? It’s just -- this is where we are. Right?


ZACH: So -- and yes, the weather is so hot. And yeah, that’s the last thing I wanna ask you too. Like, obviously we have some brutal heat here for half of the year, sometimes even more. You know, if it’s too hot you’re like, “Oh man. Like, I’m not gonna go to walk today. It’s too hot.” Right?


ZACH: What are some recommendations, treadmill is that the -- like, indoor? Should you go to join the gym? Buy a treadmill? Like, what are some recommendations on that front?

JONATHAN: I always encourage people if you can walk outside and do more real-life walking, that’s the best. I have an entire philosophy that we probably don’t have time for about treadmills.

ZACH: Okay.

JONATHAN: But I won’t bash any treadmill companies. I’m just not a fan of the treadmill.

ZACH: Okay.

JONATHAN: Just the physics of it. It’s not better than walking. I’ll say that. I’ll confidently say that.

ZACH: Gotcha.

JONATHAN: That it’s not better than walking. I prefer everyone to actually walk.

ZACH: So, if you are outside -- actually walking as you put it.


ZACH: Long term effects on concrete versus like a trail, right? I mean, that you would probably recommend going to a park with a proper running or walking trail as opposed to just banging your feet on the concrete. Right?

JONATHAN: Yes, correct. Surface does matter.

ZACH: Okay.

JONATHAN: Surface matters.

ZACH: So, we’ll look for that as well. Like, unfortunately, we don’t -- we can’t just go out to -- I mean, there are, but not a bunch of big empty fields you can go walk around being in Houston. But yeah, that just -- you know, the these little things. Right? That they -- when you really sit down to try to map out your walking journey. These are the little things that they’re gonna help you make those decisions. So --

JONATHAN: Correct.

ZACH: Any last words then on the whole walking far, walking fast? It sounds like again, like everything else in the health realm it seems it’s all relative. It’s all what’s gonna fit you and your goals better. Right?

JONATHAN: Right. Very true. I would say, make sure you’re hydrated. Make sure you have a good nutrition plan. Meet with the dietician. Don’t be afraid to do that. Don’t be afraid for someone to tell you that the cookies need to, you know, take a back seat for a while. Be mindful of your sugar and salt intake. Make sure you’re comfortable. Make sure you have good shoes. If you’re too hot buy a bucket hat or whatnot.

ZACH: Yeah.

JONATHAN: You know, you can be stylish, you know. Make it -- make it fun. Make it something that you’re looking forward to do. That’s what I will leave people with and know that it’s a long-term thing. Start small and progress. You can always progress. So, always make it a positive experience.

ZACH: Alright. Well, some fantastic advice there Jonathan. Thanks so much for joining us today.

JONATHAN: Thank you. Thanks, Zach.

ZACH: Alright. Well, a lot of good tips about walking, the science of walking, how to walk. Did that surprise anybody that the proper way to walk?

KIM: I had never heard heel to toe. So, when you said it, I was like, “Oh, my gosh. Am I doing it wrong?” Then I was glad to find out that I’m not doing it wrong. So, all good.

ZACH: I think it’s one of those things that you don’t think about it, like in your head. Like, the only reason I think about it is, I was in marching band back in the day and you’re rolling your feet and you kinda understand these sorts of things. And so, that’s why if I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t think about, like, “Oh, what are my feet -- How -- am I rolling my feet? Where are the balls in my feet?” And that -- all that. You know what I’m saying?

KIM: Oh, for sure. And you know, I think it’s a good reminder to be sort of mindful of that. Especially when you start feeling pain in certain places. When you’re, you know, going out on long walks it’s like, “Yeah, maybe I do have to adjust a little bit of my -- of how I’m stepping. I’m not walking right.”

KATIE: Yeah, I liked his description of what, like, a walk should look like in a sense of like a proud walk.

KIM: Mhmm.

KATIE: That’s probably something I don’t do enough of. I’m just like slamming my feet on that -- I’m not ever thinking about it, right? So, like the -- yeah, when he was like, “Walking like you’re proud.” I was like, “Okay, yeah.” Now that, like, really kind of like, and like, you know, like when you’re most excited, where your feet land kind of thing. Like, I thought those were interesting ways to not overthink it. The right kind of, like, level of thinking. And I was like, “Oh yeah. I’m walking okay.”

KIM: Yeah, the proud aspect of it. I think so many of us are so focused on our devices even when we’re walking in different places. And so, kind of remember like, “Head up,” right?

ZACH: I will say that, even though I listen to stuff constantly when I walk. Like, at least the phone is in my pocket and I’m just looking and walking around. But you’re right. If -- we’ve all done it. Right? We’re like, “Oh, oh.” When you get caught up in scrolling through your phone and that completely defeats the posture of the walk when you’re just hunched over looking at your device.

KATIE: Yeah. I’m glad you asked about how fast you should walk if you’re trying to walk fast. Not that I ever think about walking fast, but he kinda talked about how you could probably walk a mile in ten minutes. I think that was the number. I went back and looked, and I do not walk a mile in ten minutes.


It’s more like 17 minutes. I’m taking some leisurely strolls y’all.

TODD: Seventeen?

KATIE: Yeah. Yeah, I know I mean, I’m going slow, I guess. I don’t know. I was surprised too that I was so far off ‘cause I don’t feel like I’m walking that slow.

ZACH: How fast do you walk a mile, Todd?

TODD: Well, I’d never clocked it but I’m pretty sure it’s faster than that.


KATIE: Yeah.

TODD: I don’t know if it’s -- I don’t know if it’s a ten...

ZACH: I never timed myself but I’m pretty sure I’m faster than you. That’s --


KATIE: And it’s also --

TODD: I doubt it’s in ten minutes.

KATIE: Yeah. I’ve never thought of -- I’ve never used walks in that way. But I was just curious and then I was very surprised. So, like I do, I could pick up my pace even with my leisurely strolls ‘cause I’m, you know, almost double what he said was average. So, that was kind of helpful to hear.

Kim: I don’t know. I feel like I can be a bit of a fast city walker. So, I think, you know, it’s different than, you know, if you’re out birdwatching or if you’re walking a dog or something I think I’d be to apt to go slow. But I know when I’m using walking as a mode of transportation, I like to get there with a quickness.

ZACH: Yeah. But I think ultimately, you know, just keep moving. Right? That’s the message here and there are certain tips and certain approaches you can take where if you’re using it as exercise as you do Todd, or you just need to, you know, take a break from it all. Don’t -- you know, if you have a -- if you have a lunch break, you know, go outside. Right? Does anybody have the Nintendo Wii when they were younger?

KIM: Yeah. Oh yeah.

ZACH: Yeah. So, like, every now and it would be like, “Go outside” and the window,-- and then played that little music. Right? That’s what I think of it. It’s true, like, I kinda laugh at it. But yes, you should go outside, get some fresh air, reset, move your body, you know, and the results will add up. Right, Todd?

TODD: Ah, yes.


KATIE: What a resounding vote of confidence.

TODD: Really though, you’ve continued to walk. Something you picked up during the pandemic because you couldn’t go to your gym. You’ve continued to do it. So, it has some dividends for you?

TODD: I hope so.

KATIE: Well, it must be giving you something if you’re still doing it.

TODD: Yeah, I have a very compulsive personality.

KATIE: Something -- podcast episode for a different day.


When do healthy habits get unhealthy?


ZACH: Alright. Well, that’s gonna do it for this episode of On Health with Houston Methodist. Be sure to share, like, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. We drop new episodes every Tuesday morning, so stay tuned and stay healthy.

Categories: Tips to Live By