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What’s Better for You: A Long, Slow Walk or a Fast, Short One?

Boost the benefits of your daily walk by keeping an eye on your pace and distance.


Read when you’ve got time to spare.

woman walking

Heading out for a daily walk is one of those things most of us do without even thinking about it. Whether you’re headed around the block or have a particular destination in mind, putting one foot in front of the other isn’t something that typically requires much thought.

However, if you want to reap the benefits of your daily stroll, then you might want to pay a bit more attention to both the distance you travel and the pace you walk at.

But is there any benefit to going for a long, slow walk over a short, fast one? Or vice versa. We know both can offer a whole load of benefits – but does one beat the other when it comes to overall impact? 

To help you supercharge your walking routine, we asked the experts to share their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say. 

What are the benefits of a short, fast walk? 

As you might expect, going for a short, fast walk can offer benefits for your cardiovascular health. This is because the faster pace will cause your heart rate to rise, transforming your average walk into a cardio workout which strengthens the heart and boosts your cardiovascular fitness.

A short, fast walk can also help to increase your aerobic capacity. “It causes the body to become more efficient in distributing oxygen around the body,” explains Dr Aishah Iqbal, a medical doctor and health and wellbeing coach.

“Short and fast walks can also be effective for muscle toning as they use a number of different large muscle groups in the legs, which increases their strength.” 

What are the benefits of a long, slow walk? 


A long, slow walk may not raise your heart rate in the same way that a short, fast walk might, but it can still offer plenty of benefits – including for your cardiovascular health.

“A long, slow walk will impact your cardiovascular system by strengthening your heart and circulatory system and will therefore increase your overall endurance,” Dr Iqbal explains. “A slower walk also has a lower impact on your joints, making it the perfect option for someone who has any mobility issues.”

Dr Iqbal adds that a long, slow walk (although not too long) can be great for active recovery days, as low-intensity exercise can promote blood flow and aid muscle recovery.

Aimee Pearce, a personal trainer, also points to the benefit a long, trail walk can have on your mental health. “Walking is amazing for our physical health but it can also do wonders for our mental health,” she says. “You can walk with a friend or you can download walking meditation apps to make your walk more focused on your mental health.” 

What is better: a long, slow walk or a short, fast walk? 

Both types of walk can offer benefits – but which is best for you if you can only fit in one?

Pearce says it depends on a number of factors such as how much time you have and what your long-term fitness goals are. “One of the principles of fitness is overload, so we need to be constantly increasing the workload that our bodies are put under in order to improve our fitness levels,” she says.

In this way, it might not be a case of one or the other – you can do a mixture of both (and reap the benefits of both), as long as you make sure to keep upping your load.

Dr Iqbal agrees that both forms of walking have their benefits – especially depending on what you’re looking for – but suggests opting for shorter, faster walks if possible.

“The benefits this has on cardiovascular health – therefore reducing the risk of cardiovascular illnesses and related disorders – is key to think about,” she says. “It is also, for a lot of people, easier to build movement into their day if the walk is shorter, as it’s more feasible when leading a busy life.” 

Images: Getty

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This post originally appeared on Stylist and was published May 17, 2023. This article is republished here with permission.

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