There’s a lot more to walking than just getting you from point A to point B. Any type of movement is a boost to your health but walking in particular comes with several benefits. Including walking into your day can help to improve fitness and heart health, boost mood, lower inflammation and reduce pain, decrease your risk for chronic disease and improve your circulation and posture.
But this is what you need to consider… while walking does technically fit into the cardio category, you still need to be increasing the demand on your muscles and heart to really enjoy its health benefits. Now, no two walks (or walkers) are the same, so the tipping point at which a stroll becomes a workout differs for everyone, but there are 2 key factors that determine this: how fast you walk, and how far. So to really turn your walk into a workout, you need to start walking faster (first prize), or further.
The speed at which you walk determines your walking intensity. The faster you walk, the higher your intensity. The guidelines for a healthy heart are to do around 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week. If you don’t have a watch to measure your intensity, go with the “talk test”. At a moderate intensity, you should be able to carry on a conversation while you’re walking but at a high intensity, wouldn’t be able to belt out “hier kom die bokke” or “God save the King!
You just need to increase your walking pace; you don’t need to jog. Studies have found that walking and running produce the same health benefits in terms of disease risk reduction, provided you’re using the same amount of energy for each activity. So, you could jog for 20 minutes, but walk for 30 and get the same outcome.
Don’t write off walking, embrace it! Gradually up your pace and put one foot in front of the other on your journey towards a healthier you.
- Stamatakis E, Hamer M, Murphy MH
What Hippocrates called ‘Man’s best medicine’: walking is humanity’s path to a better world.
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- Williams PT, Thompson PD.
Walking versus running for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus risk reduction.
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