Walking has long been underrated as a form of exercise, but more and more studies are showing that it can produce physical beneﬁts on a par with running with even greater mental beneﬁts.
A recent comparison of the National Runners’ Health Study with the National Walkers’ Health Study showed that#that moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease over the studies’ six year period. Like running, walking improves all-around ﬁtness and cardiac health, prevents weight gain, reduces the risk of cancer and chronic disease while improving endurance, circulation and even posture.
This supports a number of earlier studies showing that a daily walk can reduce the risk of stroke in both men and women, reduce the days spent in a hospital each year and can even lower your risk of death by up to 39% percent (when compared with no leisure-time physical activity).
Approximately, the same number of calories per kilometre
Walking at a moderate intensity burns approximately the same number of calories per kilometre. Walking takes more time than the more physically demanding running, but the effects are similar – improvements in blood pressure, slowing of resting heart rate, reduction of body fat and body weight, reduced cholesterol and better physical condition all around.
Many people who do other forms of exercises ﬁnd themselves “plateauing” – doing the same workout and seeing diminishing returns. This can be dealt with by adding a different activity. Many ﬁnd that walking complements other activities quite well and they are surprised by the results. Walking is also a great way to keep in shape when other forms of exercise are not available. One long-distance runner, who was unable to run for a month due to slight injury, substituted brisk long walks of the same length as his runs and found that he retained a surprising level of his past endurance when he started running again.
The psychological edge
Studies show walking in nature reduces ruminating over negative experiences, which lowers the risk of depression. There are indications that even a 10 minute walk can be as good as a 45 minute workout for relieving anxiety. One#study#found that just 12 minutes of walking resulted in an increase in joviality, vigour, attentiveness and self-
conﬁdence#compared to the same time spent sitting. Walking in nature, speciﬁcally, was found to reduce ruminating over negative experiences, which increases activity in the brain associated with depression.
The bottom line: if you’re serious about getting in shape, walk the walk.