People have misconceptions about how healthy walking is for you. Let’s cover some common questions about it- like is walking healthy exercise or is it healthy at all.
First let’s define exercise
Exercise is pretty simple to define and most people tend to have an idea in their mind when the word gets mentioned, but do you actually know its definition? It’s most easily defined, in our context, as a physical activity that is carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness. So, now that we more clearly know what exercise is, we can start clarifying if walking qualifies as exercise.
What makes walking healthy?
First off it is a low impact physical activity. It works your legs, hips, core, heart and lungs in a sustainable function that, depending on your fitness level and ability, can be sustained for hours on end. This means it can build up your body’s endurance every time you walk longer or further. We already covered that it works the heart but is it healthy to work the heart like walking does? According to several studies walking is very healthy for your heart. Even walking as little as 20 minutes a day can lower risk of heart attacks by as much as 30% for an average adult. It isn’t just about heart health, though. Walking 150 minutes a week or more can help lower blood pressure, help prevent or treat type 2 diabetes, lessen odds of stroke and general causes of early death.
Does speed matter?
This is a topic that will get its own post as we go along but I’ll touch on it here. Yes, speed matters, but greater than speed is your level of energy you’re expending. Some people, me for example, have a very small step length and to walk faster than 3mph is practically jogging for me. I aim for 2.5mph which keeps my heart rate in the best zones for fitness and weight loss.
On average, you should try to walk between 2.4 and 4.5mph (3.86 to 7.24 kph) for the most bang for your buck fitness and health wise. Even a 1.8mph stroll is better than sitting around, though. If that’s what you can do now, then get to doing it.
So, yes, your walk is healthy exercise!
There can be no doubt that for the vast majority of people walking is very healthy exercise. It generally will raise your heart rate to safe levels of working. It also will often allow you to get outside to experience to new places or see familiar things from a different view. After all, health isn’t just physical. Light to moderate exercise, like walking, various studies have shown its connection to the following:
- Improved sleep
- Stress relief
- Improvement in mood
- Increased energy and stamina
- Reduced tiredness that can increase mental alertness
- Aiding depression or preventing it.
- Socialization and giving a feeling of community
What could cause these improvements? Well, its a combination of increased blood flow, increased metabolism and having an outlet outside your home.
Walking isn’t a wonder pill or cure all, but- and its a big but, for something so simple for most to do, its darn close to magnificent. There’s a million excuses people make to get out of dreaded exercise, but since walking is easy for most its much easier to add two 10 minute brisk walks to your day or a quick jaunt around a mall. I personally will walk to the local grocery store any time I crave ice cream instead of buying it with the rest of my groceries. Choosing between a beloved treat and not having it over a 20-minute walk is a no brainer to couch potato me.
I can’t wait to see you strolling along,