Have you noticed all the people out there walking on our paths, piers and walkways? There’s a reason. In fact, there’s way more than one reason. The benefits are multi-faceted, from emotional wellbeing and better mood to improved weight management and lower cholesterol. Walking is one of the best types of physical activities for someone living with arthritis. 


But Rome wasn’t built in a day, so, please don’t think that it’s too late. It’s never too late. Presuming that you have no major mobility issues, walking is the perfect physical activity for almost anyone – yes, that includes you. It doesn’t matter how unfit or out of shape you think you are – it's accessible to most people, and you can start out small. Most importantly, aim to enjoy it – research shows that those who enjoy their physical activity are much more likely to stick at it.  


  1. You don’t have to be a Pro: Unlike some sports, or some other activities, walking appeals to people of all ages and at all different levels of fitness, from beginners to pros. You also don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive equipment – a good pair of shoes is enough, and off you go! 
  2. Walking can reduce pain: Walking actually strengthens the ligaments and muscles that hold the joints in place so the more you build these up, the better the chances you have of eliminating joint pain. Walking protects the joints, especially the knees and hips (which are particularly susceptible to osteoarthritis) by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.  
  3. You can socialise while you walk: Unlike many forms of activity, walking leaves you with enough breath to chat as you go. When we walk with another person, we tend to move our bodies in similar ways – this is called ‘synchronous movement’. Subconsciously, this type of movement can increase rapport and strengthen relationships, so if you’re eager to improve your relationships, try walking together! 
  4. You’ll enjoy all the mood benefits: Studies show that exercising outdoors is more enjoyable than inside a gym, with a greater reported lift in mood. Other studies show that people who walk outside are more likely to stick with exercise in the future.  
  5. It is an ideal exercise for weight management: Particularly when combined with healthy eating, a walking programme has been shown to help people to lose weight and keep it off. It is the ideal exercise to build into your life 3-4 times a week in order to help maintain your weight.  
  6. It can help strengthen bones: High impact sports, such as running, subject bones to a lot of stress and strain. Walking is much kinder, as the impact is at a low level, but it’s enough to qualify as weight bearing exercise that will help to strengthen bones.  
  7. It boosts your immune system: Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. Getting the blood circulating helps the white blood cells in the immune system roam around the body as needed. Even just 20 minutes a day of physical activity, with its anti-inflammatory effect, can give the immune system a boost. 
  8. It helps to improve heart health: Regularly walking for an average of 30 minutes or more a day can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke by 35% percent and Type 2 diabetes by 40%. Exercise slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure (at rest and when exercising). It can also lower ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL), whilst increasing ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol.  
  9. It gives you an energy boost: If you need to beat the afternoon slump or refocus your concentration, then consider a walk – even for just 10 minutes. Although it may be the last thing you feel like, if you give yourself a gentle push, you’ll thank yourself afterwards.  
  10. It will probably help you to stick to your healthy eating plan: Research has shown that even a 15-minute walk can reduce the urge to reach for a sugary snack. How? Because moving around can blunt the emotional triggers that prompt mindless snacking. Walking has also been shown to help strengthen the pre-frontal cortex in the brain, meaning that it could help you stick to your healthy eating plan (since as your willpower will be stronger when this part of the brain is engaged. Water Walking 


If you have access to a local pool, you could also try ‘water walking’. As such a low-impact cardio workout, water walking is even gentler on your bones and joints, making it a good alternative option to road, path or beach walking.  


Read more about physical activity and arthritis here: Arthritis Ireland  


If you are interested in accessing our free Be Active with Arthritis Programme directed by a chartered physiotherapist, please email us at: [email protected] This programme, held over six one-hour classes, involves exercises such as range-of-motion and stretching, strengthening exercises, balance and coordination activities, and endurance routines. As well as this, relaxation activities are covered, including the introduction and practice of various stress management techniques which are helpful for stress and pain reduction. 


Try even a short walk today and, by this time next month, we can assure you that you’ll be enjoying all the benefits of regular walking.