Walking For Exercise. Is It Real, Or A Cop Out?
Posted on September 06 2018
I walk for my exercise, but sometimes I feel that what I’m doing is not really exercise at all. Not like running a 5 or 10K that is. Is my walking routine really a serious form of getting healthy or not? We hear this type of question all the time. Why some people believe there is a stigma about people out there just walking is beyond me. Let’s put the matter to rest, right here and now when we can say irrevocably that walking definitely qualifies as a legitimate form of exercise. Running is another form, power walking is another derivative of walking, but its still walking at its core! To clarify it further, we are borrowing some points on the subject from a well-defined post from Deanna Pomfret, who puts things in a nice easy to understand explanation.
There’s overwhelming evidence that walking produces health benefits in people especially the older population, individuals who are not currently active and those who are interested in maintaining a healthy weight.
Here are some suggestions on how to take these learnings and apply them to a different context, the already active individual.
Your heart is still working whether you are walking, cycling or swimming. Point is if you can get outside and walk you are working your cardiovascular system. These cardiovascular benefits are not limited only to when you walk. They show up in your daily life and in your other sports, and lifestyle happenings.
Take it to nature. Whether it’s the woods or near the water, exposure to this environment has shown reductions in stress and improved self-reported fitness and mental well-being. Just getting away from the daily grind can do wonders for your outlook, remember the information from previous posts about exercising releasing those "Feel Good" endorphins? Well, that and in a combination of walking in a natural environment will go a long way to helping to give you a positive uptake on your day.
A short walk can help you recover faster. Cortisol is a marker of stress. If you are threatened or challenged physically or emotionally your adrenal glands release more cortisol to help you respond to this stimulus. In the past, it was essential to survival in the chase for food and to avoid danger. Today we have many stressors, some that can be avoided and others that are necessary for adaptation and growth. Much of our training for sports is a deliberate stressor, one that is necessary for growth in fitness and performance. This combined with so many of life’s other stressors can easily overwhelm us and prevent us from moving forward.
Walking is considered anabolic or stress reducing. Walking can help manage these stress hormones. We just mentioned this point above. A walk in the woods has shown decreased cortisol levels in subjects from numerous studies. This is important for athletes who are seeking an opportunity to recover quicker, spend time with loved ones and continue to move their bodies forward.
This is also extremely important for people who struggle with chronic stress or diseases related to adrenal function such as Addison’s disease. Get out and walk, even if it’s 10 minutes a day. It reduces stress.
Walking has also been shown to improve one’s own body image. Too often we are too hard on ourselves. We focus on what we feel we should be doing, rather than what we are doing. Some people may think that a lighter, stronger version of themselves is a better version of themselves. Appreciate where you are now and embrace what your body can do today and build from here. Walking can help you tune into what is possible today and this is what helps you cross the finish line. Belief in yourself just as you are, is your own starting point to realizing any goals you set for yourself!
If you are an endurance athlete, like so many people then you today know the importance of training their body for the long haul. Our hearts are working at a quicker pace, our metabolism is working to supply energy and our bodies are taking the impact. Walking counts as part of your overall daily activity. It’s time on your feet and time well spent. Get out for a walk as often as you like and enjoy all the benefits.
And while you're taking that walk, there is no better time than the present to start monitoring just how well you're doing distance wise, how many calories you're burning from walking and how many steps you're taking to see that you get to a goal that you pre-set for yourself. Using a reliable, accurate pedometer will provide you with the data you need in order to allow you to see just how well you're stacked up against reaching your goal. One that we like to recommend that's great for a beginner walker all the way up to a seasoned power-walker is the Yamax EX-510 Power-Walker Multi-Function Pedometer This device can store up to 30 days of memory data and 30 weeks of accumulated weekly data. From tracking the number of steps you've taken, calories and fat burned, the distance walked and overall activity time based on its "3D" sensor, are stored in memory at 2:00 am after midnight every day. Accumulated Week Data will be stored from Monday to Sunday up to 30 weeks. Using a tool like the Yamax is key in helping you to keep yourself on track!
So, bottom line, yes, without any shadow of a doubt, walking is a GREAT low-impact form of exercise, and taking that walk in the great outdoors will enable you to perhaps, put a "spring" in your step as your stepping away from those calories!
Deanna Pomfret has coached fitness enthusiasts, runners, swimmers and triathletes since 2005. She is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach, Road Runners Club of America Certified Running Coach, Certified Functional Strength Coach