Is Walking Good Exercise?
Walking seems boring to many fitness enthusiasts, but we make a case for trying it.
Walking is the most foundational, most functional form of human movement — even more than squatting. The primary mode of human transportation, walking requires little brainpower and, in general, minimal effort for most people. It’s just natural.
Because walking is so simple, so natural, so easy for most, you may wonder whether walking for exercise is worth your time. Most extreme fitness enthusiasts scoff at the thought, but walking is phenomenal exercise. In fact, most scientific studies on the benefits of exercise look at walking as a primary modality.
But just how beneficial is walking, really? Let’s take a look.
Benefits of Walking for Exercise
Walking is great for days when you feel under the weather or too sore, but still want to move.
When you walk for exercise, your body undergoes a number of changes. To name a few:
- Your cardiovascular health improves (your heart and lungs get stronger).
- Your cardiovascular and muscular endurance improve.
- You burn calories and might lose weight.
In addition to those direct fitness benefits, walking also has a huge impact on your overall health. Walking can:
- Lower your blood sugar and blood pressure over time.
- Boost your mood and energy levels.
- Relieve stress, boost productivity, and spark creativity.
- Help you get more vitamin D.
And if you think walking is too easy (as many fitness enthusiasts do), consider how low-intensity exercise can supplement your current routine. Walking is a great way to fill time on rest days. It’s also a great replacement for a workout when you feel extra tired or under the weather, but still want to get movement in.
Walking is an especially phenomenal exercise choice for beginners who may not have proper running or weightlifting technique yet. It’s great cardio exercise for those with limited endurance and for busy people who don’t have time for an hour-long workout session or a commute to the gym. For older adults, walking provides a way to enjoy physical activity without excess stress on the joints.
Walking may, in fact, be the most underrated form of exercise.
How to Make Walking More Fun
Make walking more challenging and fun by walking on rugged terrain or wearing a weighted backpack.
Most hardcore gym-goers don’t exactly see walking as the most invigorating workout. Even when listening to your favorite tunes or an engrossing podcast, walking may feel dull and monotonous compared to what you do in the weight room or during group fitness classes.
To make walking more fun and reap the benefits of low-intensity steady-state cardio, try these walking workout ideas:
- If you crave intensity, sprinkle a 30-second all-out sprint into your walk every five minutes.
- Set speed goals. Power walking is probably tougher than you think!
- For strength work, add 10 walking lunges every two to five minutes.
- Walk in a hilly or mountainous area.
- Add exercises at milestones. For instance, every half-mile you walk, do 10 push-ups and 20 air squats.
- Walk with a weighted vest or backpack.