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A walking routine may seem simple: put on your sneakers and…walk, right?

While yes, getting out there and hitting the pavement is a great way to start making progress towards your health goals, as with any form of exercise, having a metric to track progress is key to continued growth.

Tracking progress is useful for many reasons. It lets you set realistic and achievable goals, easily see if your fitness is improving, and feel a sense of accomplishment when you compare your daily, monthly, and yearly progress.

It also helps to adjust the action plan needed to achieve your goals and see results more effectively. Without tracking, there would be no method of knowing when to alter the intensity, duration, or difficulty of a program to encourage further progress.

A lack of tracking can lead to a fitness plateau, while tracking can encourage results.

But what exactly should you follow when walking is your primary form of exercise? Is it better to walk a certain distance, duration or number of steps?

Benefits of tracking minutes traveled

Walking has proven health benefits, like helping with weight loss, relieving joint pain, and improving immune function. To get these incredible health benefits, walking at least 30 minutes at a brisk pace is recommended.

One of the reasons I like to track the steps over time is that you can clearly see your fitness improving. If you start at 5 minutes a day, you may find that a week later you walk through those 5 minutes with more ease, you walk further in those 5 minutes, and you may even feel physically ready to walk more. long time ! Then you can increase to 10 minutes a day and slowly increase from there. As you focus on time spent walking, you will also increase your speed, distance, and step count as a byproduct.

If walking for 30 minutes at a time proves difficult, start with ten-minute increments, three times a day. Or start with just 10-15 minutes a day, then slowly increase your walking time until you hit 30 minutes (or more!).

Benefits of tracking steps while walking

Many personal trainers give their clients a goal of taking 10,000 steps a day. This popular daily step goal can build accountability and get work done throughout the day, instead of spending a lot of time exercising.

Studies have suggested that tracking your steps leads to a more active lifestyle which decreases the development of certain health conditions. Achieving a step goal creates a sense of accomplishment. It also serves as motivation to move more throughout the day because every step you take matters. For those with a competitive streak, having this number in mind can be a very effective motivational tactic. One of the members of our Start Walking Club TODAY even walked her 10-foot hallway to do the rest of her steps before bed!

However, it is important to note that the daily steps are not a one-size-fits-all approach. Studies have even shown that it’s possible to reap the benefits of walking by taking fewer than the standard 10,000 steps per day. You should start with a step goal that is achievable for you and be sure to reassess your goal from time to time, especially if you constantly feel discouraged about failing. A client of mine had her goal set at 10,000 steps per day, but she consistently fell short of 8,000 steps. I advised her to lower her goal to 7,500 so she would feel successful at the end of the day, rather than going to bed feeling defeated. After she did this for two weeks, she consistently exceeded 7,500 steps and regularly hit 10,000 steps!

Benefits of Mileage Tracking

For those who don’t have a step tracker or like having a set distance to aim for, mile tracking can be a great method to log your steps.

A five-mile walk equals approximately 10,000 steps, which is a great goal for anyone looking to establish an active, healthy lifestyle. But that’s just one goal; any amount of walking is better than none!

It can also provide a good way to disconnect from your phone and trackers while walking. If you know that one loop around the block equals one mile, then five laps around the block equal five miles and about 10,000 steps. No matter how long it takes you (some days you may be slower or faster than others) or how many steps you take (some days you may take longer steps than others), you know no doubt that you have covered a specific distance, which can be very rewarding.

Again, it’s important to regularly reassess your distance goal and adjust it to continue seeing progress. When beginning your journey on foot, start with a mile or even a half mile. If it’s difficult enough, stick to that distance for a week or two. Then increase your mileage goal by another half mile. Over time, you should notice that the distance becomes easier to cover and your distance covered increases steadily.

Which tracking method is best when walking to lose weight?

In my professional experience, walking for a certain number of minutes each day is most beneficial when weight loss is your goal. This is for two reasons. First, you are sure to set aside dedicated walking time for exercise, instead of accumulating steps throughout the day in your daily life. It can also have mental health benefits, as you’ll be devoting time each day to relaxing and just focusing on walking. And our mental health plays a huge role in weight loss success. Second, by walking for a set amount of time, you can easily track your progress and push yourself further as you improve, instead of being limited to a certain number of steps or miles.

While tracking steps is extremely helpful for overall health, tracking the steps you take throughout the day, such as walking to the bathroom, walking to the fridge, walking to and from your car in grocery store parking lot, etc. can sometimes provide a false sense of activity. Moving throughout the day is great, but it’s important to set aside time for cardiovascular exercises that challenge your heart. I’ve seen step goals discourage this by making people think they don’t need to exercise since they take a certain number of steps during the day. And while tracking miles is exciting and can give you a clear route to walk, if you don’t have the time or energy to hit that distance goal, it may be easier to find excuses to skip your walking.

Therefore, the minute tracker is what I recommend to my weight loss clients. This creates a dedicated time where they focus on the exercise and gives them the flexibility to adapt their speed and distance based on where they are physically and mentally. A 30-minute walk can feel different depending on where you are that day: it can be leisurely and focus on your mental health or it can be filled with intervals that get your heart rate up and burn calories.

However, keep in mind that a successful fitness program (and how we track that progress) is different for everyone! We have many members of our Start TODAY community who are losing weight, increasing their energy, and feeling better than ever with step or mile tracking. If you feel motivated by the goal of taking a certain number of steps each day, this method may be the best for you! Other people are very driven by mile challenges or like the simplicity of logging a certain number of miles each day or each week. So follow the path that suits you best and that motivates you to keep walking regularly.