Harvard Health Letter

Learning to walk: A graduate course

Although you might have mastered the fundamentals decades ago, a little retraining can correct some harmful habits.

Walking comes so naturally to us that it is regularly prescribed without a second thought. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services exercise guidelines published in October 2008 advise all adults, regardless of age and health status, to strive to walk vigorously for a total of at least two and a half hours a week. Yet nowhere do the guidelines suggest how to walk.

Nor would we expect them to. For healthy adults, walking is so automatic that it's impossible to remember having learned how to do it. Yet it's likely that as we've logged pedestrian miles, many of us have picked up a few bad habits along the way that are making our walks less efficient — and maybe even injurious.

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