Raise your hand if you’re stressed out. OK, OK, put both your hands back down. Most of us swim in a pool of stress every day and that takes a serious toll on our mental and physical health.  But science says one of the benefits of walking is it’s one of the fastest, most effective ways to calm down. Moving clears cortisol, the “stress hormone”, out of your system and also helps stop the never-ending stream of worries going through your mind, according to a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology. Here are tricks for getting the most happiness out of your walk.
If you're thinking that walking could be a good way of getting fit, losing weight or just keeping you healthy, then this book will tell you how to go about it. If you have already started walking and want to hone your power walking technique, or train for a specific goal (e.g. the London Moonwalk), then this book will tell you everything you need to know. But if you're more into hiking or country walks, then this is not for you.
Bone density may not be one of the most exciting health benefits of walking, but it’s an important one. People with stronger bones avoid osteoporosis and all the problems that come with it like fractures, disability, and spine shrinkage (seriously, you can get shorter). And the best way to get strong, healthy bones is by doing weight-bearing exercises like running, dancing and, yes, walking, according to a large study done by Oxford. But when it comes to bones, it’s definitely use it or lose it: To keep your bones strong you have to keep exercising. The researchers found that adults who walked regularly had better bone density throughout their lives than their inactive friends. Find out which common walking mistake causes 11,000 injuries every year.
Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that makes you sweat, causes you to breathe harder, and gets your heart beating faster than at rest. It strengthens your heart and lungs and trains your cardiovascular system to manage and deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently throughout your body. Aerobic exercise uses your large muscle groups, is rhythmic in nature, and can be maintained continuously for at least 10 minutes.
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These changes yield major heart health benefits, with research published in the American Journal of Cardiology showing that aerobic training is the most efficient method of exercise for improving cardiovascular health. (2) Aerobic exercise can help lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, improve your immune function, and lower your blood pressure, Jonesco says.

When you engage in cardio exercise, your heart rate increases, pumping oxygenated blood and nutrients through your body, improving circulation and cardiovascular response. Post-exercise, your blood pressure decreases and you continue to see improved biomarkers for heart health for several hours. Walking is an easy way to enjoy these health benefits.


When bones thin too much – a disease called osteoporosis – you become more susceptible to fractures. In young people, whose bones remodel and rebuild with ease, this might not be too concerning. However, if you are an older individual or have compromised bone density, fractures can significantly affect quality of life and impact your ability to perform the daily activities you need to remain independent.
AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS Find an Orthopaedist program on this website.

A single activity can include elements of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. For example, interval training, where you alternate cycles of low-intensity (aerobic) and high-intensity (anaerobic) work during the same workout, has elements of both. So does a game of tennis where you might sprint at one moment (anaerobic) and then move less aggressively for several minutes (aerobic) as you hit ground strokes from the baseline.
Figure 79(A)–(C) summarize the significance of the three aerobic processes. In the growth pathway (Figure 79A), the substrate is processed by an oxygenase that uses NAD(P)H and forms NAD(P)+, while the intermediate is processed by a reductase that reduces NAD(P)+ to NAD(P)H. This regeneration of NAD(P)H generates sufficient energy and precursors to sustain growth. In the nongrowth process (Figure 79B), the initial processing of the nongrowth substrate may generate dead-end products (not degraded by the bacterial populations) that may have adverse (toxic) effects. When a soil sample contains both growth and nongrowth substrates (Figure 79C), they compete for the enzyme, resulting in degradation of the nongrowth substrate. This strategy is commonly used in bioremediation processes.
To start losing weight, you need to burn about 600 calories a day more than you’re eating and drinking, and for that, you might have to up your speed. You can burn off twice as many calories by walking at 4 miles an hour (6.5 kilometres per hour) than you can at half that speed. Walking also increases muscle mass and tone. In short, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism, so the more calories you burn off.
British physiologist, Archibald Hill introduced the concepts of maximal oxygen uptake and oxygen debt in 1922.[4][5] German physician, Otto Meyerhof and Hill shared the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their independent work related to muscle energy metabolism.[6] Building on this work, scientists began measuring oxygen consumption during exercise. Notable contributions were made by Henry Taylor at the University of Minnesota, Scandinavian scientists Per-Olof Åstrand and Bengt Saltin in the 1950s and 60s, the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory, German universities, and the Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre among others.[7][8]
Walking is one of the simplest ways to get fit and maintain heart health. The American Heart Association's guidelines for physical activity indicate that healthy adults should aim to walk a minimum of 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes every weekday. Walking seven days per week will burn more calories, and you can add challenges to your walking workout that make it more of a cardiovascular or strengthening exercise.
Aerobic exercise comprises innumerable forms. In general, it is performed at a moderate level of intensity over a relatively long period of time. For example, running a long distance at a moderate pace is an aerobic exercise, but sprinting is not. Playing singles tennis, with near-continuous motion, is generally considered aerobic activity, while golf or two person team tennis, with brief bursts of activity punctuated by more frequent breaks, may not be predominantly aerobic. Some sports are thus inherently "aerobic", while other aerobic exercises, such as fartlek training or aerobic dance classes, are designed specifically to improve aerobic capacity and fitness. It is most common for aerobic exercises to involve the leg muscles, primarily or exclusively. There are some exceptions. For example, rowing to distances of 2,000 meters or more is an aerobic sport that exercises several major muscle groups, including those of the legs, abdominals, chest, and arms.
Impaired aerobic capacity, also known as impaired endurance, is a common patient impairment that can limit participation in functional, occupational, and recreational activities. Even functional tasks that require only a few minutes can be limited by aerobic capacity. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to impaired aerobic capacity due to anatomic and physiological changes that occur with aging, greater propensity for sedentary behaviors, and greater risk for disease processes that limit the oxygen transport system.1 In addition, aerobic capacity is directly influenced by the habitual activity pattern of an individual, which may vary across individuals from total inactivity to frequent and intense activity. Any factors that limit habitual physical activity, such as illness, injury, and or travel, will cause adaptations that diminish aerobic capacity. Conversely, any factors that promote habitual physical activity, such as intentional exercise, yard work, and occupation-related physical tasks, will result in adaptations that improve aerobic capacity. In older adults, many physiological, pathological, and psychosocial factors can contribute to restricted physical activity. Figure 12-1 depicts the persistent vicious cycle that can be created when sedentary behaviors, chronic disease, and functional dependency interact.2 This chapter will provide an overview of causes and factors contributing to impaired aerobic capacity in older adults and describes physical therapist patient management (examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and interventions) to address decreased endurance and its impact on function.
1. Walk as much as you can. The University of Warwick study compared people with at least one sign of metabolic syndrome—a group of risk factors (high blood pressure, fat around the waist, high blood sugar, and high triglycerides and cholesterol) for heart disease—to those with no risk factors. They found that those who got the least activity had the most risk factors, and those who walked the most—accumulating at least 15,000 steps per day—had healthy BMIs, smaller waists, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and better blood sugar control.
You burn more calories per mile at very low speeds because you are basically stopping and starting with each step and your momentum isn't helping to carry you along. Meanwhile, at very high walking speeds you are using more muscle groups with arm motion and with a racewalking stride. Those extra muscles burn up extra calories with each step. Running may burn more calories per mile as there is an up and down motion lifting your weight off the ground as well as moving it forward."
So to recap, walking daily is excellent. Walking daily for 10,000 steps or more is even better. And if you can do so outdoors in the sunshine, and barefoot for grounding, you’ll enjoy even greater benefits. To be clear, you don’t have to do your 10,000 steps a day all at once. You can break up your daily steps into any size increments that work for you. You might walk for one hour in the early morning, 30 minutes during your lunch hour, and another hour in the evening. Or you might enjoy taking shorter 20-minute walks throughout your day.
You should walk with great attention to your back foot, as though you’re peeling it off the ground like very strong Velcro. You should pay intense heed to the difference between each of your toes, as they touch and leave the ground. You should be aware of your foot’s contours, and this will activate your large posterior muscle chains, the hamstring and the glutes. Along with your active foot will come an open ankle; if you peel your foot off the ground in segments – so it’s not even thinking about becoming airborne until you come to the pivot point between the pad of your foot and your toes – your ankle will open up and become agile, intelligent.
To get the health benefits, try to walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. ‘Brisk’ means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risk but, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program of physical activity.
These changes yield major heart health benefits, with research published in the American Journal of Cardiology showing that aerobic training is the most efficient method of exercise for improving cardiovascular health. (2) Aerobic exercise can help lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, improve your immune function, and lower your blood pressure, Jonesco says.
Heavier people burn calories at a quicker rate than lighter people during every form of exercise, including walking. According to the University of Maryland Medical System, a 120-pound person who walks for 60 minutes at a moderate pace of 2 mph burns about 256 calories. People who weigh 180 and 240 pounds, however, burn about 384 and 512 calories, respectively, during the same length of walk at the same speed.
A recent randomized crossover trial of lower-intensity or high-intensity exercise showed decreases in clinical SBP with both types of exercise. However, there was no decrease in mean day or nighttime ambulatory BP with either form of exercise.42 Aerobic interval training (AIT) combines episodes of high-intensity with episodes of low-intensity aerobic exercise. At least two randomized studies have suggested an advantage of AIT over continuous aerobic exercise.43,44 Some patients, of course, have limited ability to use their legs, and upper extremity aerobic exercise also has been shown to lower BP.45
Fitness can be pricey! Money for a gym membership, home exercise equipment, workout clothes, and shoes adds up fast. But it doesn’t have to. Walking needs absolutely nothing to do it—even shoes are optional!—but still provides great health benefits. And not only does it save you money on things but it also saves you money in healthcare. Experts at Harvard estimate that for each dollar spent on preventative health, including time spent walking, you save $2.71 in future health costs. Use these easy strategies to lose more weight while walking.
"Oxygen consumption" describes the process of muscles extracting, or consuming, oxygen from the blood. Conditioned individuals have higher levels of oxygen consumption than deconditioned individuals ("couch potatoes") due to biological changes in the muscles from chronic exercise training. For example, a deconditioned individual might have a maximal oxygen consumption of 35 milliliters (ml) of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min), whereas an elite athlete may have a maximal oxygen consumption up to 92 ml/kg/min! Values like this are expressed as VO2 (volume of oxygen consumed) and can be measured with special equipment in a laboratory.
Inevitably, this made me a little smug; equally inevitably, it made me tell anyone who’d listen that they, too, should do this amazing thing I was doing. Walking is the only thing I ever evangelise about, because, unlike everything else that makes me feel good (meditation, Jaffa cakes, the fantasy fiction genre, the TV show River and buying a good Flat White) walking is the one thing I truly believe will work for everyone. Anyone who can walk, should walk.

There is also an ever increasing array of affordable home fitness products available, such as steps, skipping ropes (remember to put your breakables a safe distance away), rebounders (rebounding is considered by NASA to be the “most efficient and effective exercise yet devised by man”), dance mats that you can use with your games console and exercise videos so that you can workout with your favourite celebrity.
Downstream from the heart are your muscles, which get more efficient at consuming oxygen when you do regular aerobic exercise (remember, "consuming" oxygen means that the muscles are taking the oxygen out of the blood). This happens because of an increase in the activity and number of enzymes that transport oxygen out of the bloodstream and into the muscle. Imagine 100 oxygen molecules circulating past a muscle. You're twice as fit if the muscle can consume all 100 molecules than if it can only consume 50. Another way of saying it is that you're twice as fit as someone if your VO2 max is 60ml/kg/min. and theirs is 30ml/kg/min. In terms of performance in this scenario, you'll have more endurance because your muscles won't run out of oxygen as quickly.
Cancer has claimed over a million lives. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the causes of cancer, and this is where walking every day can help you. Scientists have found that walking can help in weight loss, thereby reducing the risk of cancer. Walking has been found to be helpful for those undergoing cancer treatment by reducing the side effects of chemotherapy (6). It can also lower the risk of breast cancer.
Walking helps you get fitter and means your body gets better at using oxygen, so you find it easier to be more active and tire less quickly. Getting active releases feel-good hormones known as endorphins into the bloodstream, and getting that natural high reduces stress and anxiety and ultimately helps to build self-esteem. That’s got to be a good thing!
Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. Just 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. It can also reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Unlike some other forms of exercise, walking is free and doesn’t require any special equipment or training.
Observe basic safety while walking outside. Watch for traffic all around you. Always walk on sidewalks or on the left side of the street facing traffic if there is no sidewalk. Carry an ID and a cell phone or change for a pay phone. Use caution if wearing headphones (perhaps use just one earpiece so you can hear traffic and other noises around you). Make yourself visible in low-light situations by wearing reflective gear, such as vests with reflective tape are especially visible.
Your heart beats approximately 60-80 times per minute at rest, 100,000 times a day, more than 30 million times per year, and about 2.5 billion times in a 70-year lifetime! Every beat of your heart sends a volume of blood (called stroke volume -- more about that later), along with oxygen and many other life-sustaining nutrients, circulating through your body. The average healthy adult heart pumps about 5 liters of blood per minute.
Use the 1-to-10 scale of perceived rate of exertion to measure endurance. Think of 1 as watching TV; 10 is gasping for air (you can't go any further). Daily walks, for example, are 5 or even 6-6.5 sometimes. Twice a week, crank it up to 7, 8, or 9 on a steep hill for a few minutes. Now you're burning serious calories and building real aerobic fitness through interval training.

Taking a walk alone can be great for clearing your head or blowing off some steam but it also provides a great opportunity to bond with friends and family—far away from electronics and other distractions at home. Even better, you set a powerful example because when they see you reaping in the benefits of walking, they’ll be encouraged to walk more, too, according to a study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise.  Try these walking workouts that will keep your walking group interesting.
Another American study found that people who walked for at least four hours a week gained less weight (an average nine pounds less) than couch potatoes as they got older. Last year, researchers at the University of Colorado found that regular walking helped to prevent peripheral artery disease (which impairs blood flow in the legs and causes leg pain in one-fifth of elderly people).
Aerobic exercise comprises innumerable forms. In general, it is performed at a moderate level of intensity over a relatively long period of time. For example, running a long distance at a moderate pace is an aerobic exercise, but sprinting is not. Playing singles tennis, with near-continuous motion, is generally considered aerobic activity, while golf or two person team tennis, with brief bursts of activity punctuated by more frequent breaks, may not be predominantly aerobic. Some sports are thus inherently "aerobic", while other aerobic exercises, such as fartlek training or aerobic dance classes, are designed specifically to improve aerobic capacity and fitness. It is most common for aerobic exercises to involve the leg muscles, primarily or exclusively. There are some exceptions. For example, rowing to distances of 2,000 meters or more is an aerobic sport that exercises several major muscle groups, including those of the legs, abdominals, chest, and arms.
The thinking has also changed somewhat on whether there’s a threshold minimum workout duration required to reap cardiovascular health benefits from aerobic activity. HHS’s new physical activity guidelines eliminated the long-standing recommendation that exercise had to last at least 10 minutes to count toward your daily total. (4) The new guidelines emphasize that small bouts of activity throughout the day can add up to big health benefits.
Can you up those numbers? The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn, no matter the activity—that’s because it takes more energy to move more weight. If you’re specifically looking to up calorie burn, adding a 20-pound weighted vest would up your calorie burn to 8.7 and 15.1 per minute for walking and running, respectively. It’s simple physics: “The majority of calories burned in running [or walking] comes from supporting body weight while moving up and down,” says Hunter. “With more weight, there will be a greater energy cost in doing this due to a greater gravitational force.”

Aerobic exercise involves regular body part (e.g., arms or legs) movements that increase workload on the cardiovascular system. It is convenient and useful to think of the intensity of aerobic exercises in metabolic equivalents, or METs. One MET represents the amount of energy used at rest, and two METs is twice that much energy expenditure per unit of time, and so on. Aerobic exercise is widely recommended in contemporary guidelines. However, guidelines also indicate that exercise regimens are contraindicated in patients with unstable cardiovascular conditions, including but not limited to uncontrolled severe hypertension (BP ≥ 180/110 mm Hg). Conditions under which stress testing should be performed before initiation of an exercise regimen have been described.37

And there’s more good news: walking burns calories! The exact numbers will depend on your weight. But if you walk briskly at about 6.4km per hour (4 miles per hour) for half an hour, you could use up around 150 calories. It’s probably equal to playing casual badminton for the same length of time. And it’s more than half the number of calories in the average chocolate bar!
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