Walking is a great form of low-impact cardiovascular exercise. But is just walking enough to improve your health?
This article outlines some facts and opinions relating to the benefits and limitations of walking.
These are based on walking 10000 to 15000 steps per day (roughly 30mins of brisk walking a day). Positives include:
- Better cardiovascular fitness, with reductions in risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Improvements in mental health – reduced stress, improved memory, reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Low impact, no cost, no equipment needed
Although these are great initiatives to get up and get walking, there are some limitations to just walking as a form of exercise. These include:
- Walking can become easy very quickly – your fitness and strength from walking can plateau
- You need to have a decent base level of strength and fitness to begin walking for exercise – for example, if you have severe knee osteoarthritis it will be hard to start a walking program.
So, YES walking is a great form of exercise, for maintaining base levels of fitness, and keeping your base metabolic rate working. However, for further improvements in strength, body composition & weight loss, and cardiovascular fitness, it is important to ADD in higher intensity cardiovascular exercise AND resistance-based training.
Keeping this in mind, it is best to follow the World Health Organisation’s guidelines for exercise (in a nutshell):
- At least 150mins of moderate intensity exercise (walking is low-moderate intensity), OR 75mins of vigorous intensity exercise (Interval training) OR a combination of both.
- Muscle strengthening exercises should be performed on major muscle groups at least 2x per week.
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