Walking has a significant positive impact on one’s weight, stress level, and fitness. It is the most inexpensive and readily available form of exercise that can be done anytime and anywhere. It is also the safest way to get fit and doesn't require special skills or a high level of fitness.
THE BENEFITS OF WALKING
Consistent walking can help you lose or maintain your weight. Every step you take burns a corresponding amount of calories, depending on your fitness condition, stride, and walking pace. For example, a 150-pound person can burn 100 to 200 calories for a 30-minute session of brisk walking (approximately 4,000 steps). According to a 2019 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that walking an average of 7,500 steps a day can significantly lower the mortality rate in older women. Health experts recommend more than 10,000 steps or more per day, which is approximately equivalent to 500 calories per day (3,500 calories is equivalent to 1 pound of fat) to lose weight.
Walking lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, while also improving lung capacity. Consistently performing this low-impact activity can improve your bone and muscle strength, which helps support your body so you can walk and stay in an upright position. It also has a positive effect on mental and emotional health.
Improved fitness level
To get the most out of walking, you need to challenge your cardiorespiratory system by gradually increasing your pace. Achieve your target heart rate range for at least 20 minutes during the whole walk to see results. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, you can check the intensity by observing how your body responds to walking. You are at moderate intensity if you are starting to sweat and your breathing is faster, but you can still talk. On the other hand, you are at high intensity if, while talking, you pause to take a breath.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Make the necessary preparations
Schedule 20 to 45 minutes of continuous walking per day. Find the most realistic time that you can incorporate walking into your lifestyle and consider the best place to walk. It can be at your house, workplace, village, or gym.
Wear proper shoes and clothing. Hydrate yourself before, during, and after the workout. Be aware of basic walking posture and form. Straighten your back, drop your shoulders, and tighten your core. Then look straight, walk tall, and swing your arms properly.
Invest in a fitness tracker to monitor time, heart rate, number of steps taken, and calories burned. Your progress will inspire you to stick to your active lifestyle. If you are a “social exerciser,” find a walking buddy or group. To beat boredom, try to listen to your favorite workout playlist or meditate while moving.
Add challenges to your workout
Aside from increasing the pace and duration, you can make your walking workout more challenging by choosing an inclined surface, adding one-pound hand weights for some arm movements, or incorporating a short run or jog (interval training). Walking up and down the stairs during the day is also an amazing workout that will take things to the next level.