6 Ways Walking Has Real Exercise Benefits
Is logging , walking your dog, or going for a 30-minute powerwalk really exercise? You may get grief from friends who think their jogging is superior to your walking, or that exercise necessarily involves sweating, grunting, and gasping for breath. Let's take a look at how walking is a real exercise.
1. Brisk Walking Is Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Exercise
Walking at a brisk pace that raises your heart rate into the moderate-intensity zone is recommended for the benefits of "real exercise" for the cardiovascular system and to reduce health risks. A brisk pace is one where you are breathing harder than normal—you can talk, but you can't sing. If you take your pulse, it should be between 50 percent and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Walk at least 10 minutes in this zone for it to count as a moderate-intensity exercise session. You should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day, five days per week, which can be broken up into sessions of at least 10 minutes at a time.
- Start at an easy pace for one to three minutes to warm up.
- Pick up the pace to your target heart rate or perceived exertion for 20 minutes.
- End with one to three minutes at an easy pace for a cool down.
2. Building Aerobic Fitness With Brisk Walking
Walking is a real exercise that can build your aerobic fitness. You will need to walk briskly and bring your heart rate up into the aerobic zone at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate for a 30-minute session, at least three to four times per week. This is between the moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity zones. You will be breathing heavily. If you are already fit, you may need to add some hills, treadmill incline, or jogging intervals to reach this zone with a walking workout.
- Start at an easy pace for five minutes.
- Continue, walking at a pace that brings your heart rate up into your target zone. This is a quick pace where you are breathing hard and able to speak in short sentences.
- Walk for 30 to 50 minutes at this pace.
- Cool down with five minutes at an easy pace.
3. Walking as Exercise for Weight Control
You can't outrun or outwalk what goes into your mouth. Aerobic activity of sufficient duration (45 minutes of brisk walking) will encourage your body to burn stored fat. But if you are eating enough that it's replacing that stored fat, you won't see a change. Brisk walking, fast running, cycling—exercise won't lead to weight loss if you don't control your eating. That said, one large study in Britain found that women who reported brisk walking for exercise were slimmer than women who did gym exercise or sports instead.
- Start at an easy to moderate pace for 10 minutes. This burns off the stored blood sugar and glycogen and tells the body to get ready to burn fat.
- Pick up the pace and walk for 30 to 60 minutes at a pace that brings your heart rate up to 60 percent to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
- Cool down with five to 10 minutes at an easy pace.
4. Benefits of Easy-Intensity Walking
Walking the dog or going for a stroll at an easy pace works your muscles and joints. This is especially beneficial if you are overweight or at risk for arthritis. Strolling at an easy pace reduces the loads on the knee joints by 25 percent while actually burning a few more calories per mile than walking faster. While it doesn't have the cardiovascular benefits of brisk walking, it is a good starting point for adding activity throughout the day. The CDC also notes that there is evidence that easy-intensity exercise has benefits for improving your mental health and mood, which are also boosted by moderate-intensity exercise.
5. Low-Intensity Activity Breaks Up Sitting Time to Reduce Health Risks
6. How 10,000 Steps a Day Indicates Exercise
Bottom Line on Walking as Real Exercise
Walking is physical activity at any speed you enjoy it, from a slow stroll through a fast racewalk pace. The answer to your smug fitness friends is that a brisk walk is a true exercise, with all of the aerobic cardiovascular fitness effects of other moderate-intensity exercises. If they are cycling, jogging on the treadmill, or using the elliptical trainer, your brisk walk is giving you the same benefits at the same heart rate or effort.
That said, you should balance walking with other physical activities. You need strength training to build and maintain muscle. Cycling is very beneficial for walkers as it works the opposite leg muscles.
Video: Best 5 Morning Exercises To Do Before Work. Jump Start Your Day With This Quick Fitness Routine.
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