Walks and treks FAQs

BHF walkers on a tow path

As you get ready for your event, we've pulled together the answers to some of the most common questions our walkers ask to help you get started. 

Should I wear walking boots or shoes? 

Unless you're going into rocky terrain, rugged mountain paths, deep snow or thick mud then shoes are preferable to walking boots. Suitable shoes provide a far normal foot action and allow a faster walking pace. 

Tips for choosing the right shoe:

  • Buy your shoes at a competent outdoor sports shop.
  • Try your shoes on with the socks you will wear whilst walking.
  • Ensure the shoes are lightweight, breathable with a well-cushioned heel area. The mid sole should not be stiff but flexible enough to allow a natural rolling action to the step.
  • If you are likely to walk in wet conditions then the extra expense on waterproof but breathable shoes (such as Goretex) will be beneficial.

How fast should I walk? 

Walking speed will depend on your level of fitness and walking experience. Difficult terrain or travelling uphill and downhill also affects your overall speed. Assuming a level and firm pathway some general guidelines can be given below.

For a person with excellent fitness, an approximate moderate walking pace:

  • 15 minutes per mile (4 miles per hour)
  • 9 minutes per kilometre (6.4 kilometres per hour)

A fast walking pace or speed is:

  • 12 minutes per mile (5 miles per hour)
  • 7.5 minutes per kilometre (8 kilometres per hour)

An average walking pace on country and forestry footpaths is:

  • 20 minutes per mile (3 miles per hour)
  • 12 minutes per kilometre (5 kilometres per hour)

Should I go walking if feel ill?

If your cold symptoms are above the neck (a head cold with runny nose, tired eyes or sneezing) then a gentle walk without elevating the heart rate too much can be beneficial. If your symptoms are below the neck (swollen glands and aching body) then it's advisable to refrain from exercise until the symptoms have subsided. If you are unsure please seek advice from your GP. 

How does walking compare with running? 

General health and fitness is improved by walking, but to maximise the cardiovascular benefit it's necessary to raise the heart rate by walking at speed or uphill.

Running will generate a greater increase in fitness and with the training sessions usually taking less time. However, running does place more stress on the body and therefore walkers generally suffer fewer injury problems.

What are the benefits of using walking poles?

There are a significant number of benefits to be gained by using poles. Use of poles:

  • causes a higher heart rate than normal walking at the same pace
  • burns 20 - 45% more calories than normal walking
  • makes walking a total body workout utilising 90% of your muscles
  • reduces the load by up to 30% on knees, hips and other joints
  • enhances balance and stability on uneven and slippery surfaces
  • provides extra power for ascending hills and helps on descents.

Can I walk with my friend who is much slower?

It is sometimes more enjoyable to walk with a friend. If they walk at a slower speed than you, an option is to select a route that has the possibility of short detours.

You can then occasionally part company with the faster walker detouring away on a slightly longer loop before joining up again. If contemplating this option, ensure you have very clear and concise instructions about where you will join up.