Part of my walk tutorial is in the original YMCA building in central London – a cavernous gym with incongruous snatches of stained glass reminding exercisers of a higher religious purpose. Every time someone walks past, Hall waspishly critiques their walk (eg: “Look at the bend in his knees and his arms are swinging like hinges”). This becomes more and more enjoyable as her meaning unfolds.
Related ArticlesAerobic exercise: what you need to knowAerobic exercise refers to exercise that requires the consumption of substantially more oxygen than Warming up and cooling down for exerciseWarming up before exercise and cooling down and stretching after it are important parts of an exerciChoose the right exercise for youSelect types of exercise that fit your lifestyle and that you enjoy, because the benefits of exercisAdvertisement
An analysis of studies on walking showed it improves aerobic fitness - which is technically the ability of the heart to get oxygen to our muscles and how effectively our muscles use that oxygen. But to be effective, walking needs to be of at least moderate intensity, which means an intensity where you’re able to notice your breathing but can carry on a conversation without noticeable pauses between words. For many, this is a brisk walk.
There you have it. Aerobic exercise is awesome stuff! It strengthens your heart, adds strength to your muscles and makes them more efficient fuel-burners, increases your endurance and your energy, improves your mood, makes you fit and healthy, and much, much more. It could take as little as 30 minutes out of your day for a tremendous payoff so I suggest giving it a shot. Follow my advice for getting started by doing only what is realistic and build up slowly. You have only health and fitness to gain, and you're worth it! Good luck!
But just because it isn’t as time- or energy-efficient as running doesn’t mean you should never look to walking as exercise. Whether you’re running or walking, you can reduce your risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and improve your cardiovascular health, according to data from the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study.
When running isn't in the cards, walking with added weight might be your next best bet for an effective workout. Research shows that walking on the treadmill while wearing a weighted vest can increase the metabolic costs and relative exercise intensity.The effect of weighted vest walking on metabolic responses and ground reaction forces. Puthoff ML, Darter BJ, Nielsen DH. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2006, Jun.;38(4):0195-9131. Similarly, increasing the incline on the treadmill makes for a more effective walking workout. A study showed that walking at a slow speed (1.7 mph) on a treadmill at a six-degree incline can be an effective weight management strategy for obese individuals, and help reduce risk of injury to lower extremity joints.Energetics and biomechanics of inclined treadmill walking in obese adults. Ehlen KA, Reiser RF, Browning RC. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2011, Oct.;43(7):1530-0315. And picking up the pace slightly almost always helps. One study found speed walkers had a decreased risk of mortality over their slower counterparts.The relationship of walking intensity to total and cause-specific mortality. Results from the National Walkers' Health Study. Williams PT, Thompson PD. PloS one, 2013, Nov.;8(11):1932-6203.
A lot of people, thinking themselves on a “power walk”, brace themselves, particularly their abs. But you don’t really want to be braced, you want to be taut. Bracing your abs and glutes makes you feel as if you’re making an effort, but it silos your muscle groups. Tautness, on the other hand, lengthens and connects them, activating the connective tissue (the fascia) that holds the show together.