Is Walking A Good Enough Workout For You?
Many people only resort to long walks when they are upset or need some time to clear their heads. For most young and active adults, walking doesn’t meet with their requirements of a good workout. After all, it is a low impact workout that doesn’t leave you feeling exhausted, it doesn’t cause sore muscles and it doesn’t need a disciplined regimen. So, can something as simple as walking be good enough to stay in shape?
Before we begin to explore whether walking is a good enough workout, let us understand how much exercise we need. Experts say we need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise every day. However, they don’t mention how intense these exercises should be or which ones are the best. Interestingly, a recent study has also revealed that high intensity exercises may not really benefit us as much as we believe them to. A study presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010 revealed that vigorous cardiovascular exercises are not beneficial in the long run. Though moderate cardio will reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases, high intensity cardio can actually adversely affect your cardiovascular health because it diminishes the functioning of the heart’s right ventricle. So can walking really be a good enough cardio?
Walking As An Option For Regular Workouts
Walking is by far the most common type of exercise. The reasons behind the popularity of walking are many, some of which are:
- It requires no money to begin exercising.
- It is ideal for anyone and everyone, it isn’t very stressful.
- It doesn’t require any hard training and anyone can begin walking.
- It doesn’t require a strict discipline. One can walk whenever they find some free time, as long as they have comfortable shoes.
In 2007, researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that people who walked for half an hour for all seven days of the week not only lost weight, they also reduced risk for metabolic syndrome. However, it needs to be understood that walking for 30 minutes doesn’t exactly mean you should simply stroll around the compound.
Any exercise that will help reduce weight, increase stamina and endurance and increase metabolism must be intense enough to make you break into a sweat. Your walks need to be intense, which is easily achievable by altering the distance you walk, the speed at which you walk and the terrain you walk upon. Experts recommend walking 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy, so keeping a pedometer is a great way to see how many steps you walk through the day.
Walking Will Work If You Put Some Work Into It:
As discussed before, for walking to qualify as a good enough workout, it needs to become a good aerobic workout. For that you need to walk at a faster speed and maintain the pace. Only then will your heart rate increase significantly enough.
As with all exercises, to be able to see results with walking, you need to push yourself. How to know whether you are walking fast enough for it to qualify for a good aerobic workout? Simple – do the talk test. If you can sing a song comfortably, you are walking too slowly. If you can barely utter a few words before you start gasping for breath, you are walking too fast.
To make sure that your walking workouts are enough to keep you in shape, follow these simple tips.
- Every cardio must begin with a warm up. Start at a slow pace, walk casually for a few minutes. Then increase the pace and pump up speed. Similarly, when you start feeling tired, decrease your speed and walk slowly for another 10 minutes before you end the workout.
- For more speed and to maintain pace, bend your arms at the elbows. Take the stance of a brisk walk and keep arms swinging. It may feel strange in the beginning, but you will get used to it.
- Challenge your body. Build speed as your stamina grows. Use a pedometer to increase the number of steps you can walk everyday till you start to walk 5km or more every day.
- Walking is versatile. You can even try interval training. So walk at a fast pace for 10 minutes, then reduce your speed and walk slower for another 10 minutes. Keep alternating between speeds, as you increase the number of steps you take every day.
- Many people consider using ankle weights or wrist weights to add more impact to their walks. Unless you have been walking for a long time, this is best avoided.
- Once you have started walking at a pace fast enough to break into a sweat with ease and are also walking over 5km a day, incorporate a few uphill and downhill walks. If you use the treadmill to walk, this is easy. If you walk outdoors, try ramps and stairs to add more impact to your workouts.
- Once you finish your walk, do a few toning and stretching exercises. These will open up your muscles and add more strength. Toning exercises can be done with body weight exercises or even with light free weights. Aim to work all larger muscle groups, starting with your neck, shoulders, arms, chest, sides, abdomen, things and calves.
As long as you feel challenged by walking and can do it consistently, it is a good enough workout for most people. In fact, though most people think that running is the best cardiovascular exercise, it can negatively impact your joints, back and knees. Try walking, but make sure that you put enough work into your workouts. All you really need is a good pair of shoes, a pedometer and a good MP3 player to stay motivated and energised.