There are those who love walking, and write poems about the benefits of this sport and more. Can it provide the many health benefits as they claim? Is it the same for people of all ages and fitness levels? Is it reasonable that it helps prevent some diseases or even prolong your life?!
The good news is that walking is a free exercise, and it is easy to fit into your daily work program, and all you need to start walking is a sturdy pair of comfortable shoes. In this article, we will talk about the importance of walking, its role in weight loss, and tips for making the right use of it. So, follow with us.
In this Article
1. Burning calories
Effective calorie burning depends on several factors, including:
- Slow walking or fast walking.
- Length of distance traveled.
- The nature of the ground means that you will burn more calories while walking uphill than you would on a flat surface.
- Your weight plays a role in determining the amount of calories burned.
2. Strengthening the heart
Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by approximately 19%. It may further reduce your risk of injury when you increase the amount of time or distance you walk daily.
3. Reducing blood sugar
A study found that walking for 15 minutes three times a day (after breakfast, lunch and dinner) may help you lower your blood sugar.
4. Relieves joint pain
Walking can provide protection for the joints in the body, including the knees and hips. This is because it softens and strengthens the muscles that support the joints, and walking may also provide benefits for people who suffer from arthritis.
5. Boosts immune function
Walking may reduce the risk of catching a cold or flu. One study followed 1,000 adults during flu season and found those who walked at a moderate pace for 30 to 45 minutes a day had 43% fewer sick days and significantly fewer upper respiratory infections in general.
6. Boosts energy
Going for a walk when you’re tired can be a more effective energy boost than having a cup of coffee. Walking increases the flow of oxygen through the body, and can also increase levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These are hormones that help raise energy levels.
7. Improve mood
Walking can support your mental health. Studies show that it can help reduce anxiety, depression and negative mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal.
To experience these benefits, practice brisk walking for 30 minutes or any other moderate-intensity exercise three days a week. You can also divide it into three rounds of 10 minutes each.
8. Improve quality of life
Walking at a faster pace may extend your life, this is what researchers found, and they confirmed that walking at a moderate pace compared to slow walking led to an overall lower risk of death by 20%.
But walking at a brisk pace (at least 4 miles per hour) reduced the risk by 24%, and the study looked at the association of walking at a faster pace with factors such as general causes of death, cardiovascular disease, and death from cancer.
9. Support your leg muscles
Walking can strengthen your leg muscles to build more strength. Choose to walk in a mountainous area or on an incline treadmill, or look for routes with stairs to stretch your muscles.
10. Creative thinking
Walking may help clear your mind and help you think creatively, as a study that included four experiments compared people trying to think of new ideas while they were walking or sitting, and the researchers found that the participants’ performance was better while walking, especially while walking in the open air, and the researchers concluded that walking opens the free flow of ideas and is a simple way to increase creativity and get physically active at the same time.
Safety Tips When Walking
- Walking in pedestrian areas, look for well-lit areas if possible.
- If you are walking in the evening or early morning hours, wear a reflective vest or light so cars can see you.
- Wear sturdy shoes with good heels and arch support.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- Drink plenty of water before and after walking.
- Use sunscreen to prevent sunburn even on cloudy days.
How Do You Practice Walking?
To start walking, all you will need is a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Choose a walking route near your home, or find a scenic place to walk in your area.
Here are some ideas:
- If you’re moving from one area to another, try to get off the bus or train one stop early and walk the rest of the way to your destination.
- Park your car further from your office than usual, then walk to and from your car.
- Consider walking instead of driving when running errands. You can complete your tasks and exercise at the same time.
- Walking can fulfill the recommended daily exercise routine for people of all ages and fitness levels.
- Consider getting a pedometer, or other fitness device, to track your daily steps.
- Get warm and stay cool before walking to avoid injury. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.
Lose Weight by Walking Only
You may be able to lose weight by walking, depending on the duration and intensity of the walk and the type of your diet. It is certain that combining physical activity and reducing calories helps in losing weight more than exercising alone.
Physical activity, such as walking, is important for weight control because it helps you burn calories. If you add 30 minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine, you can burn about 150 additional calories per day. Of course, the more you walk and the faster you go, the more calories you burn.
However, balance and moderation are important when exercising, because overdoing it can increase the risk of pain, injury, and fatigue. If you are new to exercising regularly, you may need to start by walking short distances or walking at a light intensity, then gradually move to walking longer distances, more moderate density, or more powerful.
Once you lose weight, exercise becomes more important, which helps maintain the new weight.
7 Ways to Add Intensity to Your Walking
1. Move at a challenging but sustainable pace.
Your walking workout may be on a treadmill or even outside, but you are moving at a comfortable pace. If it feels a little too easy, you should add some difficulty to your workout.
“You should move at a steady, challenging pace where you can keep moving,” says Mathew Forzaglia a NFPT-certified personal trainer and owner of Forzag Fitness in New York.
This means that you should keep your heart rate at approximately 65-75% of the maximum, to achieve the desired benefit from walking, perhaps by increasing the speed or duration of the exercise.
2. Add weight to increase resistance.
By adding some extra weight to your walk, you are adding resistance. By adding resistance, you are increasing your heart rate and improving your overall cardiovascular health.
3. Change your walking speed at intervals.
Adding some speed intervals to your walking brings different benefits to your cardio, as by incorporating some faster intervals, you will improve your heart rate variability, improve your cardiovascular health, as well as burn more calories.
Not only will you burn more calories in less time, but you will also increase excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, which allows the body to continue burning calories even after you finish exercising. In other words, your workout may be over, but your metabolic rate stays high for a while after that.
4. Walking on elevated roads
If you live in an high area, try to take your hike to new heights. Exercising at a higher altitude can increase the flow of oxygen to your muscles so they tire more slowly. That’s because, as a 2016 study found, training at high areas can increase the production of erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that makes red blood cells, which transports oxygen to all parts of the body.
5. Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
For advanced walkers, changing the way you breathe while logging miles can also increase the intensity. Keep your mouth closed and breathe in and out through your nose while finding a steady pace difficult, but a pace you can maintain, as you make more effort to consume the same amount of oxygen you consume by breathing in and exhaling through your mouth.
As a study in the International Journal of Movement and Sports Sciences showed, this type of nasal-restricted breathing pattern does not lead to lower cardio fitness.
Breathing through your nose is challenging at first and may feel uncomfortable, but over time, studies show that it becomes easier and your breathing will become lighter and more efficient.
6. Walking on the sand.
If you live near water, consider walking on a sandy beach instead of on hard pavement. We recommend doing so barefoot, as the sand provides unstable resistance, forcing your body, especially your feet, to work harder. Not only will you get cardiovascular benefits from walking itself, but you’ll also strengthen your feet because when you walk on sand, your nervous system recruits extra muscle fibers in your legs, hips and torso in response.
You can also try walking on a variety of surfaces, such as grass or dirt paths, to help strengthen your feet.
7. Incorporate strength exercises.
Walking may be a cardio exercise, but you can still incorporate strength training into it.
Having a variety of options to add intensity to your walking workout can make your usual walking routine feel refreshing. Try adding these exercises to your few walking workouts and you will see the differences that help you stay motivated for the movement performed.
Walking versus Running for Weight Loss
Losing weight requires losing calories, and although not all calories are created equal, you won’t lose weight unless you burn more than you eat.
Timothy Olds, professor of health sciences at the University of South Australia, told Newsweek: “Fat is the main form of storing excess calories, so a person’s obesity increases when he consumes more calories than he burns, and decreases when he burns more calories than he stores.”
“When it comes to losing weight, running is a more time-efficient way to burn those extra calories. Energy expenditure increases the faster you walk or run.”
Comparing Running and Walking When Measuring Distance
“Running is one of the most efficient forms of high-intensity exercise,” Ford says. “It engages multiple muscle groups, plus it’s a weight-bearing exercise because it makes the muscles and bones work against gravity. This added component of gravity can help increase and maintain bone density.”.
Additionally, the added component of working against gravity increases the work needed to complete the movement resulting in increased energy demand, and as a result, running is not only more efficient at burning calories but more effective at losing weight.
The Difference between Running and Walking
While running is superior to walking when it comes to losing calories, it’s not right for everyone.
“The disadvantage of running is that the weight-bearing nature of the exercise can make it contraindicated for individuals with joint or bone injuries or deficiencies,” Ford said.
Studies have shown that running is more likely to lead to injuries, especially among novice runners. Not wearing proper running shoes and incorrect body posture can also increase the risk of injury.
“Every person needs to listen to their body to find the right activity for them,” Ford said.
“This will be different for each person, depending on everything from their genetic makeup to their sporting history to the injuries they have sustained throughout their life.
Is Walking or Running Better?
When it comes to losing weight, running obviously has the upper hand, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best form of exercise for everyone, and it’s also possible that running too much can lead to injuries and even strain the heart.
“In fairness, the two shouldn’t really be compared to each other. Running recruits bigger muscles, greater force, and the ability to move faster. However, walking is a good form of exercise and can help you reach your fitness and weight loss goals.”
Olds agrees that although walking offers obvious health benefits, running is more efficient.
“You’ll probably get roughly the same health benefits from running or walking, but running is more efficient in terms of time. One minute of running is roughly equivalent to about 3.5 minutes of walking,” he said.
“Of course, running is not suitable for everyone due to musculoskeletal stress, and in terms of fitness, walking may not be intense enough for a young person to increase their fitness, but it may be enough for an older person.”
In the end, what works for you may not work for someone else, but what matters is that you stay active. Both running and walking provide significant health benefits and are counted among your weekly exercise recommendations.
A study found that walking in the open air improves your overall mood, giving you clarity of mind and the ability to make positive decisions. It also has many benefits, starting with improving the efficiency of the heart and muscle strength. Walking can help you lose weight, as it burns calories, reduces blood sugar levels, and strengthens the body’s general immunity, but all of this must be done according to special conditions for walking that we mentioned in this article, which I hope you liked. Stay safe.
Frequently Asked Questions about Walking
How many steps should I walk to burn 1000 calories?
In fact, you should walk for at least 238 minutes to lose 1,000 calories.
How much does a diabetic need to walk daily?
Walking for an hour or 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week, is very beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes, as studies show.
Is walking suitable for sciatica?
Yes. Walking is suitable for most bone diseases, and walking is considered the first line of treatment for sciatica and alleviating its pain.