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Is Walking a Good Form of Exercise?

Blog, / By Winsen Citra
Walking as exercise

Walking is one of the most popular form of sporting activities in the world. It is a type of cardiovascular exercise aimed at improving the health of your heart and lung. It is also one of the least expensive form of exercise while also not requiring any skill whatsoever.

However, many people believe that walking is not as beneficial as higher impact exercises such as running. Is this true? Let us explore that.

Health benefits to walking

Walking as an exercise has been shown by many studies to have many health benefits. These include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Weight loss (lower BMI)
  • Lower risk of diabetes
  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Lower risk of stroke

Aside from these obvious gains to your physical health, you will also feel some benefits to your mental health. Multiple studies show that walking has some positive effect in reducing anxiety, stress, loneliness, and depression. Furthermore, you will also have better quality of sleep.

How is it compared to other exercises?

To be exact, many of the benefits stated above will also be felt with many other forms of exercise. The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines simply recommends that we do at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity weekly, if able. While it does not specify what type of exercise, walking fits perfectly into the intensity and aerobic component of the recommendation. It is also extremely easy to adjust walking speed, duration, and frequency to one’s physical fitness level, making it an exercise that nearly everybody can enjoy.

How should I walk?

There are many options that you can choose depending on what is available to you:

  • A track is best if you’re looking to measure exact speed and distances at a level ground
  • Around your neighbourhood  is an effective way to explore around where you live
  • A park is great to enjoy nature
  • A mall is a great way for you to get some exercise in while also getting your shopping done
  • Treadmill allows you to easily adjust for speed and intensity, and even incline

Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your walking:

  • Wear a comfortable attire – Wear something that allows you to move freely
  • Wear a good footwear – Find a pair of shoes that support your feet arches and is properly fitted
  • Plan your route – Choose well-lit areas with a good walking paths
  • Find a buddy – Walking is more enjoyable when you have someone with you

References

  1. Williams PT, Thompson PD. Walking versus running for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus risk reduction. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology. 2013 May;33(5):1085-91.
  2. Omura JD, Ussery EN, Loustalot F, Fulton JE, Carlson SA. Peer Reviewed: Walking as an Opportunity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2019;16.
  3. Tanasescu M, Leitzmann MF, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB. Exercise type and intensity in relation to coronary heart disease in men. JAMA. 2002 Oct 23;288(16):1994-2000.
  4. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Ascherio A, Rexrode KM, Willett WC, Manson JE. Physical activity and risk of stroke in women. JAMA. 2000 Jun 14;283(22):2961-7.
  5. Hu FB, Sigal RJ, Rich-Edwards JW, Colditz GA, Solomon CG, Willett WC, Speizer FE, Manson JE. Walking compared with vigorous physical activity and risk of type 2 diabetes in women: a prospective study. JAMA. 1999 Oct 20;282(15):1433-9.
  6. Hori H, Ikenouchi-Sugita A, Yoshimura R, Nakamura J. Does subjective sleep quality improve by a walking intervention? A real-world study in a Japanese workplace. BMJ open. 2016 Oct 1;6(10).