You unconsciously walk several thousand steps each and every day. Because of this natural process, you may wonder if walking “counts” as good exercise. Does walking qualify as exercise at all, or does it have very little impact on your health and physical fitness? Recent research shows that walking is an under-appreciated but very effective form of exercise.
Walking – Better for Your Heart Than Running?
Research was conducted on 33,060 runners and 15,945 walkers. When the same amount of energy was used, those that walked were healthier than those that ran. This was a serious study, an in-depth study which covered 6 years, and participants both male and female from age 18 to 80.
Running did reduce the risk of heart disease by 4.5% over someone who was sedentary. However, walking reduced the chances of contracting heart disease by more than double that figure, a full 9.3%. First-time high cholesterol risk was lowered by a full 7% by those in the study who walked. The runners did lower their cholesterol risk, but by just 4.3%.
Comparing Apples to Apples
Comparing and contrasting running to walking makes sense because both of those activities use the same muscle groups. Also, the fact that running is more intense than walking was thought to lead to more health benefits. Actually, the opposite has been discovered. It is thought that this may be because the continual pounding your body receives while running puts more pressure on your limbs, muscles, and joints than walking.
This data was reported in the American Heart Association Health Journal: Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. The fact that such a large sample size was used, age groups covered more than 60 years, and both men and women were employed as test subjects give these incredible findings a lot of validity.
Do you need more proof of walking as good exercise? Dr. Dawn Marcus is a neurologist and professor at the University of Pittsburgh. She points to recent medical research which shows that “… consistent walking is better for your health than infrequent strenuous exercise.”
She has published a book titled “Fit as Fido: Follow Your Dog to Better Health”. In it, she recommends walking your dog frequently, for the health benefits this activity delivers to both you and your furry friend.
So, is walking a good exercise? The research seems to show that not only is walking a valid exercise, but it may also be more beneficial for you than running and some other forms of exercise.