How Good Is Brisk Walking As An Exercise? -
Written by Pamela Foster

When you think about walking, you might not consider it to be a form of exercise. After all, you're barely breaking a sweat.

Of course, there is a difference between taking a casual stroll and doing a brisk walk. The question many people may ponder is whether taking a brisk walk holds any benefits in terms of actual exercise. The short answer is yes. And, there's scientific proof to back that claim.

How Good Is Brisk Walking as An Exercise?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is recommended that you get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. Now that may sound like a lot, but you can break it into 30 minutes of exercise for five days a week or three ten-minute aerobic sessions per day for five days a week. This is in addition to doing two days of muscle-strengthening training per week.

Yet what exactly constitutes aerobic exercise? And does brisk walking qualify as exercise? Absolutely! A brisk walk can yield many benefits when incorporated into a daily routine. The secret lies in consistency, and finding the right information and support structure.

According to Harvard Medical School Publication, regular brisk walking can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce weight, and the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, while boosting memory.

A 1998 study conducted on three groups of women aged 44 and over yielded some interesting results. One group walked for ten minutes at a time, three times per day at an 80% heart rate, the second group walked for 30 minutes per day at an 80% heart rate, and the third group remained sedentary.

The study determined that the two groups who walked briskly every day yielded the same or similar benefits, while the sedentary group remained unchanged. The findings in the study supported the statements made in the Harvard Health publication.

The Physical Benefits of Walking

According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, walking is a much safer option when compared to running, with far fewer injuries. It is also much easier to do and more conducive to social networking.

The first and most obvious physical benefit of walking is that you will improve your fitness, reduce your weight and improve your posture, increase your endurance, and alleviate fatigue.

Getting enough exercise, which includes brisk walking, may lower your risk of seven types of cancer. Further studies suggest that daily walks can reduce the risk of stroke in men and women while also substantially lowering the death rate in both men and women.

The physical benefits of walking include lowered cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, and reduced resting heart rate. In addition, regular walking strengthens bones and muscles, improves balance and coordination, and reduces pain and joint pain.

The Mental Benefits of Walking

The physical benefits may take some time to become evident, but the psychological benefits will be almost immediate. Initially, you may notice an overall improvement in your mood when you engage in regular brisk walking.

There have been numerous studies on the mental benefits of walking. For example, according to this 2009 study, regular brisk walking has proven benefits in increased memory, and this 2010 study revealed that walking helped to prevent the deterioration of brain tissue during the aging process.

Furthermore, the benefits of walking were reviewed from a psychological perspective and studies indicated that brisk walking demonstrated a proven ability to improve anxiety and depression. It was also indicated that a ten-minute brisk walk yielded the same results as a 45-minute workout when it came to anxiety-relieving benefits.

A study was conducted by Stanford University to determine the effects of walking on creativity and the results will blow you away. Walking briskly for only ten minutes a day was proven to increase creativity by an astonishing 60%. It is believed that when we engage in activities that allow our minds to wander, similar to what is experienced during a brisk walk or a casual stroll, it creates a mental state that promotes innovative ideas.

So, the next time you need to write a paper, or you experience writer's block, why not take a brisk walk around the block and see if that gets the creative juices flowing?

How To Get Started on A Walking Routine

Starting a walking routine shouldn't be a daunting task. If you're new to fitness, you may want to initially start with a slow short stroll. Over time, you can increase the speed of the walk and eventually increase the distance. It's important to pace yourself and give your body time to adjust to this new form of exercise if you've previously lived a sedentary lifestyle.

You can challenge yourself by increasing your speed. Use a timer to determine how long it takes you to walk a mile. After a few days, try to improve your time by walking the same mile faster. This is an excellent way to get aerobic exercise for the day, improve your heart rate, increase your endurance, and burn calories. You may opt to alternate between brisk walking and leisurely walking at first until you can improve your fitness level.

It's important to consider your walking technique. Transitioning from a leisurely walk to a brisk walk requires purposeful movements and good posture. Ensure that your back, neck, and shoulders are relaxed, your head is up, and there is a slight bend in your elbow.

How to get the most out of your walking routine

Once you've mastered your desired distance, you may want to challenge yourself. This will help to further increase your endurance and fitness level. If you're walking on a treadmill, you could make use of the incline feature. Alternatively, you could add weights to your walk or alternate between speeds when walking.

Indoor versus outdoor walking

This depends on your specific circumstances. If you find it more enjoyable to walk outside, by all means, enjoy your brisk walk outdoors. However, in areas where temperatures drop to below zero during the winter, you may want to opt for walking on a treadmill indoors. Check out this page for affordable but quality treadmills you can use for your indoor walks.

Getting the right gear

Gear matters. You must wear the correct gear when walking. Opt for shoes that provide proper arch support. The soles of the shoes should be thick and flexible and the heels should be firm. You want your shoes to absorb as much of the shock as possible. This will prevent joint pain or possible injury.

Clothing should be comfortable and loose-fitting. In addition, you should adjust your clothing to weather conditions. Add layers during cooler weather and reduce layers in warmer weather. The best material for outdoor walking during warmer periods is moisture-wicking fabrics. Furthermore, if you intend on walking at night, wear bright clothing.

Setting goals and getting started

Set realistic and attainable goals. If you haven't exercised before, or it's been a while since you last exercised, start slow and gradually increase speed and distance. Always do warm-up stretches before you start. Consider a fitness app to help track your progress. A fitness tracker will help you to adjust your goals as your fitness level improves.

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