Walking is possibly the greatest and most underappreciated exercise. Now, this might seem silly. How can something so basic be such an incredible exercise?
The truth is, walking has huge physical and mental benefits. Its slightly flashier cousin, running, may be praised as the better workout, but many experts suggest otherwise.
Today, we’ll uncover the truth. Is walking a truly effective exercise, should you do it every day, and is it possible to simply walk your way to health and happiness?
Why is walking so important?
Walking is the mother of all weight-bearing exercises and these types of exercises have long been recognized for their many health benefits including:
- Reducing body fat
- Reducing your chance of heart disease and stroke
- Helping with joint or muscular pain
This is all great, but what about the strength side. What about muscle growth and all of the other things we use to measure fitness?
Physical Benefits of Walking
Well, this is where it gets interesting. Walking increases muscle strength and a few other important things but so do most exercises. The real question is, does walking improve your physical health more than something like a workout?
Like most fitness questions, this all depends on your unique life, and trying to come up with a definite answer can get a bit complicated.
However, walking may not be a better workout but goes on to argue that walking can be a better exercise choice.
Walking is just more accessible. It’s a low-impact exercise and is easier for people with knee, back, or neck problems.
Running has the physical edge as you exert more force to do it. This is very taxing for your muscles and it’s what helps them grow stronger.
However, it’s a fine line between pushing yourself and hurting yourself. Yale Medicine estimates that at least 50% of regular runners get hurt each year.
The problem is, it’s hard to know if you’re hurting or helping yourself. As most of us know, if you’re truly pushing yourself then it's going to feel pretty painful anyway. That’s what sets walking apart from the more traditional workouts. High reward with very low risk.
Mental Benefits of Walking
Walking through nature is a fantastic way to start the day! It can be incredibly calming and you can simply relax into the routine. In fact, the Mayo Clinic and other medical organizations regularly praise the mental health benefits of walking.
Sick of being the tired grumpy one in the group? Walking can help improve your sleep, increase energy levels and reduce stress.
Plus, walking isn’t a solo sport. It’s a great chance to catch up with a friend, chat with the neighbors or spend some quality time with a partner.
When should I walk?
Whenever you want to! For many of us, setting aside a specific time is just unachievable.
So, don’t be afraid to multitask. Answering phone calls as you stroll or listening to a podcast may feel like a bit of a cheat but it’s 100% better than doing the same things seated.
Whatever it takes to make walking a part of your routine.
Should you walk every day?
Having looked at all the evidence and research we finally have an answer! Should you walk every day?
If it works for you and your lifestyle then, yes, it seems like the perfect package. However, if you prefer a sweaty, blood-pumping workout then walking is a fantastic way to spend an active rest day in between sessions.
As with most health choices, the answer lies in moderation. When the opportunity arises to walk, take it! However, don’t cut quality time with family or your usual workouts just to force it.
Walking is an easy, social way to exercise with many health benefits. After all, who wouldn’t want to be happier, healthier, and living life with more energy? It’s about time you took advantage of walking and its benefits.
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