Fitness fanatics scoff at the mere mention of walking as an exercise. But a growing body of evidence has shown that walking has a number of health benefits that qualify it as a valuable form of exercise.
As a matter of fact, brisk walking has been compared to running – and has even been called healthier than running on the grounds that there is less risk of long-term injury due to the impact on the ground.
Moreover, a large cohort of runners converts to fitness walking once they start to experience problems with their knee and ankle joints. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that running creates an impact on your joints around 2.5 times your body weight. Walking produces a force of 1.2 times your body weight.
Although jogging burned more calories when performed for the same length of time, joggers suffer from muscle soreness more often. Muscle soreness is typically a precursor to injury.
Rather than dismissing walking as a serious exercise, the question you should consider is what you want to achieve from your health and fitness routine.
Jogging may help you to lose weight quicker, but walking helps you to maintain a healthy weight – and with less risk of a long-term injury that could impair your fitness program as you get older.
What Constitutes Exercise?
The National Library of Medicine defines exercise as a planned and structured activity that involves some sort of physical activity that expends energy. The definition reads:
“Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that result in energy expenditure. The energy expenditure can be measured in kilocalories. Physical activity in daily life can be categorized into occupational, sports, conditioning, household, or other activities.” – National Library of Medicine
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. For your minutes to count, the exercise must last for at least 10 minutes per session.
Walking is classed as moderate exercise, whilst vigorous activity is running or sports such as football (soccer), tennis, swimming etc. People that go to the gym typically fall into this category depending on their workout routine.
You would ordinarily expect tougher workouts to deliver better health benefits. They do for weight loss, but Saga reports that a study performed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed that high-intensity movement doesn’t have a great deal more health benefits than slower-paced activities.
“Researchers collated data from more than 33,000 runners and 15,000 walkers and found that walkers enjoyed more health benefits. They found that heart disease was reduced by 9.3% in participants, but only by 4.5% in those who ran.” – Saga
How to Measure Walking as a Serious Exercise
Walking stimulates the cardiovascular system which increases your heart rate by around 100 beats per minute.
Contrarily, high-intensity exercise raises your heart rate to around 120-130 beats per minute. This would lead you to assume that high-intensity exercises are better for you because they make your heart work harder.
But this is only partly true. Walking gets your heart into that ideal range – the 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.
Moreover, any physical activity that increases your heart rate improves blood flow and can lower blood pressure and boosts energy levels by releasing endorphins.
This is good for your health and the principal reason people engage, or should engage, in some form of physical activity. Cleaning the house, dancing and having sex are all forms of exercise you can do without even leaving the house.
Harvard School of Public Health reports that a large cohort study of runners and walkers tested after a 6-year follow-up offered similar benefits in reducing the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes when expending an equal amount of energy.
These studies show there is little difference between moderate-intensity and high-intensity exercises. Providing the type of exercise you do increases your heart rate and makes you breathe more deeply, you are receiving health benefits.
Download the Sweatcoin App
Sweatcoin is on a mission to encourage more people to engage in physical activities that improve health and well-being. With the Sweatcoin app, you can convert your steps into a digital currency that you can splurge with over 300 merchants. So if you need the incentive to walk – Sweatcoin pays for you to walk.