If you’re a slave to the treadmill and hate pounding the pavements to get your cardio in the form of running then you will be over the moon to hear that walking can be just as effective as running.
Research by the American Heart Association’s Journal of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology shows that ‘equivalent energy expenditures by moderate walking and vigorous running exercise produced similar risk reductions for hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, mellitus, and possibly CHD.’
That’s basically saying that brisk walking saw the same physical benefits as running. Considering an estimated 48,000 people have osteoporosis of the knee and 64% of adults are classed as overweight or obese, it’s easy to see why the nation would favour a workout with lesser impact on the body.
What are the Benefits of Walking?
Multiple studies have found that running’s slow-paced cousin, walking, is just as good for relieving stress, reducing cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes; as well as not giving you joint pain and the pesky runner’s knee, walking helps strengthen your bones, unlike running that can cause osteoporosis.
Walking also boasts improvement of balance and coordination, can help you to maintain a healthy weight and improve posture.
Other studies have found that speed walking decreases the risk of mortality and increase the quality of your sleep. So it’s not just about hitting your step count at the end of the day, walking is a powerful exercise that you should be using more.
In addition to improving physical fitness, walking (be it at a brisk pace or gentle stroll) also has many psychological benefits:
How Walking Helps the Mind
Arguably, any form of exercise and moving your body helps to combat stress, boost your energy and improve your overall mood but walking helps instil a sense of calm in your body while you work out, helping you to find and maintain a more relaxed state. This is particularly helpful if you live a stressful life as walking can help to adjust the nervous system; opt for a 45-minute walk after work, rather than reaching for a glass of wine to take the edge off. (We know, sometimes the wine will win but bear with us!)
Not to mention, walking is way more social than running. And if the weather is good, well you’ve boosted your workout even more as exercising outdoors can revitalise you, helping to increase your energy and mood even more, as well as blasting off those cobwebs.
How Walking Burns Fat
Whilst in theory, running exerts more energy, it’s actually quite stressful for your body and heart. And, unless your keeping your heart rate in its optimum fat burning zone, you’re not actually getting the best work out for you.
Walking burns a lot more calories that you realise too. Though if you’re using walking as your main source of exercise, perhaps add some weights – such as ankle weights or a weighted vest – to increase the metabolic costs and overall intensity.
If you’re getting your walk in on the treadmill, increase the incline and this will see your overall workout intensity increase, and oh will you feel it in those glutes.
If your long-term health goal is to improve your overall health, and to create an active lifestyle that has longevity, then walking is for you.
Essentially in terms of wear and tear on your body, you’re actually better off walking. Phew! So grab your Fitbit and get earning that step count!