By Carlton Ryan
Walking isn’t always thought of as a serious form of exercise. But in fact, taking a walk is a better workout than most people would expect. As a way to get or stay fit, walking has some important things going for it, of which more people should be aware. Here are four big advantages of walking as a form of exercise.
- It can be enjoyable. Walking is a lot more pleasant than most other exercises, many of which can be downright miserable. This is partly because walking can be done outside, in nature. Experiencing the fresh air and natural sights of the outdoors can be a wonderful experience, and numerous trails and parks are perfect for walking. Walking is also more amenable to the pleasures of companionship. While walking, it’s relatively easy to carry on a conversation with a friend. A pet dog can also make for a terrific walking companion.
- It’s low-impact. Walking is a relatively gentle workout, especially in comparison to many other popular exercises. Running, for example, applies significant pressure to the joints and spine with every stride, while the movements required by walking place minimal stress on the body. Similar rules apply to cycling and most other workouts. This means that walking will lower the risk of injuries, making it the perfect exercise for seniors, the overweight, arthritis sufferers, or anyone else with a health issue that makes intense exercise difficult or risky.
- It’s quality exercise. No, walking isn’t the most arduous form of cardio exercise there is. Nonetheless, it is still a great way to get the heart pumping. Experts recommend getting at least three hours of moderate aerobic exercise a week — and walking definitely counts. Cardio exercise is one of the keys to staying fit and healthy. This means that regular walks will improve heart, lung, and circulatory system health, reduce the risk for numerous diseases, and promote a healthy weight. Since exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, walking can also help improve mood and relieve stress.
- It’s easy to do. Walking is the simplest mode of exercise in existence. Walking requires no special training and no equipment (aside from a decent pair of shoes). A walk can be taken in almost any circumstances, at almost any time of the year. The ease, simplicity and pleasant nature of walking also makes it easier to start up or stick with the habit. Unlike some other forms of exercise, there is no intimidation factor with walking, making it ideal for beginner exercisers.
While walking may not be the most intense form of exercise in the world, that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. Plus, for many people, getting any exercise at all would be an improvement — so worrying about how a particular workout isn’t especially demanding doesn’t make much sense. Clearly, walking as a means of getting regular exercise should get more respect.