In the age of fitness trackers and step-counting apps, walking is definitely getting more attention than it used to. But for quite a while, it was brushed off in the world of fitness as being not vigorous enough to make a difference. I’m here to tell you that walking is definitely not a pointless pastime. Here’s why this underrated workout is totally worth your while.
Walk, Don’t Run
If you think breaking a sweat and losing your breath are crucial components of an effective workout, think again. Sure, running, interval training, and other high-intensity cardio routines are great and all, but if they’re not your jam, no problem.
Walking is much less physically demanding, and yet, you can still reap some heart health benefits, burn calories, meet your fitness goals, and improve your mental health. Plus, you’re much less likely to burn out or experience soreness. Not only that, but unlike many fitness programs, walking is completely free.
A hard workout isn’t necessarily the best workout. The best workout for you is one you enjoy doing and are motivated to stick to. For a lot of people, a daily walk is the name of the game.
What the Science Says
I’m obviously a big proponent of walking, but you don’t have to take my word for it. A study conducted by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that walking at a rate of 100 steps per minute is an effective workout of moderate intensity, and 130 steps per minute is fast enough to be considered vigorous exercise.
Even a Few Steps Can Go A Long Way
Although 10,000 steps a day is often said to be the number to hit to achieve health benefits from walking, research published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that between 4,400 and 7,500 steps a day can be just as good. The British Journal of Sports Medicine published another study concluding that a regular walking routine can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and support weight loss.
Walking is good for your mental and emotional well-being, too. Researchers from Stanford University found that walking improves a person’s creative output by roughly 60%. Also, walking usually takes place outdoors. Do you ever feel like just being outside gives you a brighter outlook on life? Sure enough, a study by the University of East Anglia concluded that getting fresh air and sunlight is good for your health and can reduce feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety
Walk Your Walk
Blood pressure benefits, weight management, reduced cholesterol, and a mental health boost—what’s not to love? When it comes down to it, walking is kind of an all-star workout, so don’t write it off.
Theresa Holland is a freelance writer and lifestyle blogger specializing in wellness, beauty, relationships, and personal finance. Her work has appeared on Verywell Health, The Spruce, TripSavvy, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, and The Financial Diet. Theresa lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and son.