Walking has multiple health benefits. But researchers have found that the speed you walk is more important than the distance covered.
There has been a long-standing belief that walking 10,000 steps a day is an ideal milestone for improving and maintaining health. In recent years, this figure has been disputed — given the fact that there is no scientific data to support the claim.
The idea of walking 10,000 steps a day was actually a marketing ploy created by a Japanese watch manufacturer that launched a pedometer. Scientific studies have since shown that between 7000 and 8000 steps is the more optimal distance.
However, more recently, researchers have concluded that the distance you walk doesn’t deliver as many health benefits as the speed you walk.
We’ve previously written about the health benefits of brisk walking, but why does walking faster deliver optimum impact over distance?
The Need For Speed (Walking)
Walking at a faster pace allows you to cover the same distance in less time. It’s a more efficient way of meeting your exercise goals. This can be advantageous when you have limited time or when you want to achieve your goal more quickly.
Whether you’re walking for exercise or transportation, a brisker pace generally leads to a higher-intensity workout. It increases your heart rate, burns more calories, and promotes cardiovascular fitness.
Increasing your heart rate is good for your health because your heart has to work harder to pump oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. Over time, this leads to a stronger and more efficient cardiovascular system, endurance, and stamina.
Regular exercise helps strengthen the heart muscle, improves circulation, and enhances the capacity of the lungs to deliver oxygen to the body. This increased cardiovascular fitness can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Furthermore, increasing oxygen in the bloodstream helps improve the immune system and stave off colds, viruses, bacteria and fungi. Oxygen increases the number of white blood cells in the circulatory system which are important for making T-cells — the “terminator” cells that kill foreign invaders in the body.
Weight Loss and Muscle Mass
Brisk walking makes the body work harder, particularly the core where most fat is stored. Walking at a faster pace engages a wider range of muscles in your body — and the latest research shows that the body takes energy from fat cells to power the muscles.
Walker at greater speeds activates your leg muscles, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, and can also involve your core muscles, glutes, and arms. This can provide a more comprehensive workout and contribute to improved strength and muscle tone.
If one of your goals is to lose or maintain a healthy weight, see our earlier article explaining how to lose weight by walking.
Walking For Body and Mind
Walking at a faster pace has been shown to improve physical and mental well-being. Researchers have shown that walking at a faster pace encourages a more upright posture and proper gait mechanics.
When walking briskly, you tend to swing your arms more naturally, maintain a consistent stride length, and have a more balanced gait. These factors can reduce the risk of postural problems, joint pain, and muscle imbalances.
Walking at a brisk pace has also been linked to enhanced cognitive function and mental well-being. It can increase blood flow to the brain, boost oxygen supply, and stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers.
Improved cognitive functions help to improve focus, concentration, and overall mental clarity by reducing stress. And given that stress is the underlying cause behind around 90% of doctors’ visits, brisk walking naturally has benefits for your overall health and well-being.
Download the Sweatcoin App
While the speed at which you walk is important, it’s also essential to consider your individual fitness level, comfort, and any specific goals you have. It’s generally recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or a fitness expert to determine the best walking regimen for your needs and abilities.
And even if you reduce the distance you cover, walking at a faster pace can actually help you to cover more steps — particularly as your fitness and stamina get better.
Sweatcoin has developed an app that converts steps into a digital currency that you can spend with over 300 merchants. Download the Sweatcoin app today and benefit from hundreds of amazing discounts.