Walking is something most of us do every day. So much in fact, that we take it for granted. We would, and probably should take walking more seriously if we approached it as a form of exercise.
Numerous studies have found that walking has a wide-ranging wealth of benefits for both your mental and physical health. Yet because we are so accustomed to walking, it doesn’t feel like exercise.
Of course, your perception of walking as a form of exercise depends on your approach. If you go rambling every weekend, there are obvious physical and mental health benefits.
The same can be said for brisk walking. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that walking has the same health benefits as running – and in some cases, walking is better than running.
Before you’ll baulk, allow me to explain why walking could be a better option than running for some people.
Why walking is better than running
Running is clearly a form of exercise that is well-known to be good for your health and fitness. It helps you burn calories so you stay in good shape. Breathing deeply also means you take in more oxygen which helps to build strength in the immune system.
A study undertaken by the American Heart Association reported that walking, when performed as a form of exercise, has similar results to running. In particular, walking delivered similar results to running for reducing the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
To get similar results, you obviously have to invest more time when walking as a form of exercise. But walking has two key benefits over running.
Firstly, walking has less impact on your joints than running. Therefore, walking is a better choice for people with knee, ankle, hip and back complaints. Walking is also less likely to cause damage to these ligaments as you get older as well.
For the same reason, walking is also a good entry-level exercise if you’re overweight.
Secondly, when people perform the same form of exercise for every workout, they become conditioned and “plateau”. If you’re an avid road runner, you need to mix up your workout routine.
You could easily do that by walking for part of your route and running for longer. Alternatively, take a different route and include hills, steps and slopes.
The same rules apply if you take up walking as a form of exercise.
Brisk walking gives you a workout
Brisk walking means walking quicker than you ordinarily would. It is a more energetic workout than simply walking. So if you want to ramp up the intensity of your workout, pick up the pace.
Brisk walking is classed as a “cardio” workout. In this sense, it’s closer to running so gives you many of the same health benefits including faster heart rate, lowers blood pressure and reduces stress.
Fitness walking also means you take in more air. When you get more oxygen to your lungs, it helps to the creation of white blood cells which are needed to create antibodies and fight alien entities that can infect the body.
Any activity that gets your heart and lungs working harder is good for your mental and physical health. Fitness experts also recommend varying your speed, to allow your breath to recover a little before going full-out again.
Mental Health Benefits of Walking
Walking can have a calming effect on a stressful mind. It’s quite common for people to go for a walk when they need to “clear their mind”. Even walking at a steady pace can help calm anxiety and help you think more clearly.
A study of leisure walking found a correlation with an improvement in cognitive function, memory and processing speeds, particularly in older people. It is believed that intergenerational walking can have excellent mental health benefits for adults of all ages.
Another study found that walking trigger neurochemicals called endorphins. These naturally occurring brain chemicals stimulate relaxation and enhance your mood. You don’t have to walk at a fast pace to release endorphins.
The same study found that walking meditation had the greatest impact on mood. Mindful walking generally involves walking at a slow pace and focusing on your steps by simply counting one, two, one, two.
Walking meditation is also known to improve self-perception. Mindful walking has been practised as a meditation exercise for thousands of years in some eastern traditions. Walking meditation is particularly common in Buddhist temples.
Because stress is known to be at the root of all the major illnesses in the world today, health experts are trying to encourage people to get more exercise. This is particularly the case if you work in a sedentary job.
Physically active people are 30% less likely to suffer from the strain of stress, anxiety and depression.
It’s a telling statistic that the number of people reporting anxiety and depression during lockdown increased. In the UK, there was a 9% increase, but in the US, the number of people reporting symptoms surged by 31%.
Walking With Sweatcoin
Sweatcoin is a downloadable app with a built-in pedometer. Our mission is to encourage people to improve their physical and mental health by engaging in walking as a form of exercise.
What makes sweatcoin unique from other pedometer’s is that we reward you for the steps you take, For every 1000 steps, you receive 1SWC – a digital token that can be traded in for merchandise with our partners – and we have over 300 partners offering great deals!
Get involved today by downloading the sweatcoin app now. The more you walk, the more physical and mental health benefits you will get…and you even get more to spend! Sweatcoin is a win-win.