If you are trying to become healthier, rehabilitating an injury, or looking to take advantage of the scenic views that Washington has to offer, walking/hiking is a great way to achieve those goals. Aerobic exercise is essential to cardiovascular health and the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes (30 minutes/day) of moderate aerobic exercise the week. Studies have also shown that physical activity and spending time outdoors have a positive influence on mood and is a contributing factor to overall happiness!

If you are just starting to get back into shape or have recently been cleared by your medical provider to return to walking, it is recommended that you gradually increase your activity/walking levels over time. Everyone is at a different level of fitness or recovery. It is best to consult your healthcare provider if you have questions about increasing your activity level.

Benefits of a Walking routine: 

  • Maintaining healthy bodyweight
  • Prevent and manage various conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes
  • Increase bone density
  • Increase muscular strength and endurance
  • Improve mood
  • Improve balance and coordination

Below is a return to walking program from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:

WeekWarmupBrisk walkingCool-down
15 minutes5 minutes5 minutes
25 minutes7 minutes5 minutes
35 minutes9 minutes5 minutes
45 minutes11 minutes5 minutes
55 minutes13 minutes5 minutes
65 minutes15 minutes5 minutes
75 minutes18 minutes5 minutes
85 minutes20 minutes5 minutes
95 minutes23 minutes5 minutes
105 minutes26 minutes5 minutes
115 minutes28 minutes5 minutes
125 minutes30 minutes5 minutes

Tips for a Walking Routine: 

  • Warm up and Cool down: Start at a slow, steady pace to prepare the body for activity and to cool down afterwards
  • Keep your head up, look where you are going and not on the ground
  • Use hiking poles if you feel unsteady on your feet or would like extra support
  • Dress accordingly to the weather. Be aware of wet/slippery surfaces, especially in the winter months
  • Choose comfortable shoes with proper arch support to cushion your feet and absorb shock
  • Listen to your body: take breaks as needed and don’t push into pain

Walking Areas:

There hundreds of local public parks, trails, and nature preserves to explore from in the Seattle Eastside region. The parks/trails listed below are just a few of the options that you can explore and are great places to start your walking program and spend time outdoors! The example areas listed below all have: easy/convenient access, paved or gravel pathways, and have minimal elevation. These features make it perfect to begin a walking program and gradually transition to hillier terrain/hiking trails if desired.

Medina Park:

Medina Park offers some short gravel walking trails around two wetland ponds. Half the park is open for off-leash dogs.

Luther Burbank Park:

Luther Burbank Park is located on Lake Washington and has a one mile paved loop hike with views and some history along the way. A hike through the park will also reveal large open lawn areas, picnicking areas, tennis courts, a large off-leash dog park and a very unique kids play area.

Idylwood Park:

Located in the city of Redmond right on the Lake Sammamish with a paved loop around the park. There are some small natural areas, including a creek that cuts down the center of the park and waterfront/beach access.

Sammamish River Trail:

The Sammamish River Trail rolls along smoothly through a wide, scenic greenway that’s home to riverside parks and farms, as well as a growing wine industry. The river trail runs 10.1 miles along the Sammamish River from Bothell to Marymoor Park in Redmond as part of the “Locks to Lakes Corridor.”

Bellevue Botanic Gardens:

The Bellevue Botanical Garden encompasses 53-acres of gardens, restored woodlands, and natural wetlands. Its specific collections include: an alpine rock garden, dahlia garden, entrance garden, fuchsia garden, ground cover garden, Lost Meadow Trail, native discovery garden, perennial border, water-wise garden, and the Yao garden. The Bellevue Botanical Garden is free throughout the year  allowing thousands of visitors an opportunity to enjoy this nearby treasure. The Garden is open daily from dawn to dusk.

Larsen Lake:

Located in Bellevue with a gravel loop path around a peat bog lake and through the Larsen blueberry fields. This park also connects to the Lake hills greenbelt and Phantom lake adding a total of 3 miles of walking trails round trip.

Snoqualmie River Valley Trail:

The Snoqualmie Valley Trail rolls from verdant dairy land in the north to a clear blue mountain lake in the south. Along the way, travelers are treated to numerous trestle crossings, historic towns, views of mountains and farmland, and a roaring waterfall. The 31.5-mile packed gravel trail has multiple access points, starting in Duvall, passing through Carnation and Fall City, and ending up on Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend. Whether it’s a short walk or an allday epic, you have the option to choose your own adventure.

University of Washington Arboretum:

The UW Arboretum features distinct ecological communities, horticultural collections, effigy mounds, more than 17 miles of trails, and a Visitor Center. There are 4 miles of paved trails through woodlands, wetlands, prairie, and a marsh island. Washington Park also includes a playfield and the Seattle Japanese Garden in its southwest corner. Azalea Way is also a popular destination in the Arboretum during the springtime, a stretch of the park which offers a unique tapestry of azaleas of many colors.

Rattlesnake Lake:

The Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area is a day-use area located outside the boundaries of the Cedar River Municipal Watershed near North Bend. The Rattlesnake lake trail is located on the southeast side of the lake and is a 0.75 mile mix of flare paved and packed gravel trails that access the lake and the Cedar River Watershed Education Center.

Your Local Neighborhood:

You don’t have to travel far to start your walking program or to get the benefits of spending time outdoors. Many neighborhoods have numerous greenspaces and flat walking paths! Any amount of exercise is better than nothing. Even just stepping outside your home and walking around the community is a step in the right direction!




  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272494413000959
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272494405801847
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0169204615000286