It’s baffling how people would answer the question: Is walking an exercise?
Some would say, ‘Of course it is! It’s what I do for exercise!’ While others would say, ‘No way, walking doesn’t do anything for me except help me recover from my workouts.’
I think walking is great! Personally, I like to get more than 10,000 steps a day and obviously walking helps me do that. I also like to interval my runs with brisk walking because the change in heart rate makes my body more conditioned than just running at the same pace for the same amount of time. Do I do other things? Oh yeah – but walking is a bonus in my routine.
Walking has many health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, and other studies cited below, regular brisk walking can help you:
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. As far as calorie burn (and that’s the bottom line for a lot of us!) It depends on how brisk you walk as to how much you burn. For a 30-minute walk – if you are strolling and stopping to smell the roses, you will probably burn around 90-calories. If you are walking briskly, like a 16 or 17-min. mile, you will burn closer to 200 calories. The more you weigh, and the less fit you are, the more calories you burn in a half-hour walk.
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. The New England Journal of Medicine found that men who walked two-miles a day (the study was for 12-years) cut their risk of death from cancer by about 65%.
- In the study mentioned above, those same men had a nearly 50% drop in in the risk of death.
- Strengthen your bones and muscles- because walking is weight bearing and forces you to work against gravity.
- Alleviates stress-The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports published a study in the January 6, 2015 issue showing that a 30-minute lunch time walk done three times a week can boost mood and help alleviate stress.
- Improve your balance and coordination-walking helps build lower body strength, and important element in good balance, which leads to better coordination.
- Brain benefits for older adults- The National Council on Aging found that in people over the age of 60, a 45-minute daily walk at a brisk pace of a 16-minute mile significantly boosted cognitive performance. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, a different study found that 40-minutes of walking, three-times per week, slowed the normal, age-related shrinkage of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that consolidates short-term memory- the part of the brain that is the first affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
Clearly, walking is an exercise that has many benefits! As with all exercise, consistency and intensity make the difference in effectiveness and overall health benefits. Keep on walking!