It was repeatedly emphasized that walking stands are among the most beneficial exercises for both body and mind. Not only is it cost-free and adaptable to various settings—indoors, on vacation, integrated with hiking poles, or accompanied by a furry friend—but it has scientifically proven advantages. Walking elevates mood, enhances fertility, aids in weight loss, promotes heart health, and more. Contrary to the misconception that only high-impact activities count, walking proves to be a legitimate and highly effective workout.

Now, what about walking backward?

This isn't reserved for children on playgrounds during dodgeball games. Some assert that taking 100 backward steps equals 1,000 forward steps, suggesting it's more than mere child's play. While not scientifically proven due to altered gait patterns, walking backward presents a unique challenge compared to forward walking. The stride length differs, making it harder to equate steps definitively, yet the distinct difficulty of walking backward adds a novel dimension to your walking workout.

Top 7 health benefits of walking backwards 

According to researchers, the mechanics of walking forward primarily involve ankle thrust, while backward walking shifts the power to the hips and knees, offering numerous advantages.

Muscle Strength Building:

Traditional walking follows a heel-to-toe gait, with the heel hitting the ground first and then the toes. Backward walking reverses this pattern, engaging muscles differently in the hips and legs. The retro walking movement pattern has demonstrated the ability to intensify the effort required from leg muscles compared to forward walking.

For instance, walking backward activates the quadriceps at the front of the thigh as you straighten your legs and propel yourself backward, contributing to enhanced lower-body muscle strength. Studies indicate that walking backward is particularly effective in strengthening the quadriceps compared to the benefits derived from forward walking.

Improves Balance

Incorporating backward walking into your routine can positively impact gait, walking speed, and balance, especially during recovery from injury or illness. A review indicated that retro walking, when integrated with other physical therapy treatments, enhanced gait and muscle strength in individuals dealing with knee osteoarthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and ACL injuries.

In stroke survivors, a study focusing on a backward walking training program demonstrated superior improvements in balance and walking speed compared to standing balance training.

A recent study reinforced these findings, showing that individuals recovering from a stroke, engaging in backward walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes three times a week, experienced enhanced balance, walking speed, and cardiorespiratory fitness within four weeks.

Burns More Calories Than Forward Walking

Reverse walking expends more energy, resulting in a higher calorie burn compared to regular walking. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reported that walking briskly at 3.5 miles per hour burns 4.3 METs (metabolic equivalents), while backward walking burns 6.0 METs.

METs measure the energy expended during physical activity, and according to the ACSM, reverse walking burns approximately 40% more calories per minute than brisk forward walking, offering an effective means to elevate exercise intensity.

Boosts Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Walking, known for enhancing cardiovascular health, becomes even more effective when the direction is altered. Reverse walking contributes to improved cardiorespiratory fitness, enabling the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen more efficiently during exercise.

In a small study, young women participating in a backward walking and running training program experienced reduced body fat and enhanced cardiorespiratory fitness after just six weeks.

Increases Flexibility and Range of Motion

Retro walking, with its modified gait, has the potential to enhance flexibility and range of motion, providing relief from aches and pains. The backward stepping motion, where the knee straightens before landing, can particularly benefit those with knee limitations due to injury or illness. Additionally, retro walking fosters flexibility in the ankles and hamstrings at the back of the thigh.

May Help Limit Knee Pain

Walking in reverse is considered gentler on the knee joint and kneecaps, potentially alleviating knee pain associated with conditions like knee osteoarthritis and a runner's knee. The activity strengthens the quadriceps, offering support to the knee. Physical therapists often incorporate backward walking on a treadmill into rehabilitation programs, utilizing the technique to address knee-related issues.

The alteration in walking direction engages low back muscles, stabilizing the spine and presenting a potential benefit for individuals dealing with chronic low back pain, as suggested by researchers.

Challenges Your Brain

Beyond its physical benefits, walking backward also positively impacts your brain. Unlike forward walking, which often becomes automatic, retro walking requires heightened attention and conscious movement, challenging your proprioception and body awareness.

Engaging in activities that require learning, such as mastering the retro walking technique, contributes to cognitive sharpness. A study in Cognition revealed that individuals who walked backward or even contemplated doing so demonstrated improved short-term memory recall of past events.

Safety Precautions When Walking Backwards


Unlike conventional walking, backward walking requires careful consideration to avoid potential safety risks, especially for individuals with injuries or older adults. Incorrect execution may lead to falls and injuries.

To ensure safety, consulting a healthcare professional is crucial before attempting to walk backward independently. Begin at a slow pace and practice on a treadmill while holding onto handrails. Seeking guidance from a physical therapist or personal trainer is advisable to assess suitability based on your health goals.

While backward walking offers various health benefits, exercising caution and seeking professional advice are paramount to a safe and practical experience.


Engaging in walking stands out as a top-tier exercise for holistic well-being, and the best part is it comes at no cost! Regular walks contribute to longevity, elevate mood, fortify joints and muscles, and offer various health advantages. Additionally, incorporating backward walking enhances coordination, boosts physical endurance, and sharpens cognitive functions. If walking doesn't align with your preferences, rest assured; your preferred exercise also delivers significant benefits.


  1. How long should you walk backwards?

The duration of walking backward depends on individual fitness levels. Start with short sessions and gradually increase the time. Aim for at least 5-10 minutes initially, adjusting based on comfort and fitness goals.

  1. Does 100 steps backward equal 1000 steps forward?

Reverse walking engages different muscles but alone may not specifically target belly fat. A comprehensive approach, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is essential for overall fat reduction, including the abdominal area.

  1. Does reverse walking reduce belly fat?

Reverse walking engages different muscles but alone may not specifically target belly fat. A comprehensive approach, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is essential for overall fat reduction, including the abdominal area.

  1. Is walking backwards suitable for your knees?

Walking backward can be gentler on the knees as it reduces impact. It engages different muscle groups, promoting joint flexibility. However, if you have knee issues, consult a healthcare professional before incorporating backward walking into your routine.

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