Exercise is anything that requires physical exertion done specifically as an effort to improve your health or fitness. There is a caveat I will explain, however walking is definitely a good form of exercise. In fact, walking could be the best exercise when all is said and done.
Here’s the thing, humans were meant to be active and on their feet moving more than sitting. At the moment we have an epidemic of bad health stemming from lifestyles of sitting too long.
So, any walking you can do is good, but is it all exercise that is increasing your level of health and fitness? Not necessarily.
Any exercise you do specifically for things like building muscle, improving heart and circulatory system, increasing lung function, weight loss, and more, should raise your heart rate to about 75% of your personal max.
The easiest way to know that number is by using an online calculator like this. Now purchase a smartwatch with a heart rate monitor, walk at a pace that raises your heart rate and keeps it elevated for at least 30 minutes. Do this several times a week and watch your weight go down and your fitness levels go up.
Why Walking Is Exercise
There is an unlimited amount of methods to raise your heart rate and get fit. Here’s a few right off the top of my head:
- Cycling outdoors
- Indoor cycling on stationary bikes
- Weight Lifting
- Playing sports
- Mowing the lawn with a push mower
- Running or jogging outdoors
That’s just as far as I want to go, but you can see the list can go on for days. But walking at a pace fast enough to become exercise does exactly the same thing as any other form of workout.
Somehow, it’s gotten self a bad name and relegated to senior citizens, but that’s sad. The benefits from walking for 45 -60 minutes 3-5 times a week is at least as good as any other form of exercise when it comes to raising fitness levels.
We weren’t really designed to be weight lifters or football players, but we were designed to walk.
8 Benefits of Walking
1. Low Impact Exercise
Exercises like running, kickboxing, gymnastics are high impact and hard on your body and especially joints. They also put you at a higher risk of injury. On the other hand, walking is a low-impact activity that is easy on your joints and body. This exercise is gentle and keeps your body in a fluid-like state as you work every muscle in your body.
2. Cardio Workout
Cardio workouts are great for raising your heart rate, toning muscles, improving lung capacity, and burning calories. In fact, cardio is the best way to burn calories to help lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
3. Low intensity
With this low-intensity exercise, you never need to worry about overtaxing your nervous system. The opposite is high-intensity workouts like HIIT or some forms of CrossFit. High-Intensity workouts can put a terrible strain on your central nervous system as it places extreme demands on your body.
The thing about walking for exercise is that you can do inside on a treadmill, outside at parks, walking tracks, inside malls, or to and from work. People walk for exercise in a multitude of settings. You can walk in your neighborhood or buy a gym membership at a gym with an indoor walking track.
5. Aids in weight management
This simple and humble physical activity not only burns calories but keeps you focused on eating a healthy diet. Make it a practice to walk for 30-60 minutes several times a week just before a meal, and you will satisfy your appetite and continue burning calories for hours afterward. If you can walk outdoors, you will notice allergies and seasonal colds diminishing as your fitness improves.
6. Great for stress relief
This is one of the best ways known to relieve stress and anxiety. Whether you walk by yourself or with a friend, the steady rhythmic motion and the sound of your feet hitting the ground has a way of calming you. Instead of muscles being tense and tight like after weight lifting, you will come home relaxed. Because we were built for walking, it’s the most natural and therapeutic exercise.
7. Improves Digestion and Flushes Toxins
Got problems with constipation or heartburn? After a couple of days of walking, you will see both of these problems leaving. Because a walk involves all the muscles and organs in your body waste and toxins naturally move to leave your body. And you get this benefit whether you walk indoors or outdoors.
8. Vitamin D
We all need vitamin D, and because so many of us work inside and come home to a sedentary lifestyle, we don’t get it. That’s why so many of us are Vitamin D deficient and tired and fatigued all the time. Walking outside will give you plenty of Vitamin D and lift your energy levels and mood.
Walking for exercise is too good an activity for your overall health, moods, joints, and weight management to neglect. Even if you’re into other things like sports or weight lifting, you should walk on your rest days.
In fact, you can use walking as a way to soothe and sore muscles and speed recovery time from other activities. It’s a light exercise that will increase your blood circulation, burn up some calories, and relax you.
Walking can be a free way to get all the workout and exercise you need to stay healthy and fit and is the best medicine for common ailments.