Regardless of how many calories you burn, adding walking into your daily routine can have profound health benefits! Going on regular, brisk walks can help you maintain a healthy body weight and stave off diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and hypertension. In addition, regular walking helps improve bone density and leads to increased muscle strength.
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Also aim to do strength training exercises of all major muscle groups at least two times a week.
Here’s my most important tip for walkers. It’s not the foot strike. It’s not the arm swing. It’s the “belly-button-to-spine” action that will make the walk more effective, protect your back, and get your abs in on the action. I call it a “tummy tuck.” Draw the belly button toward the spine. That deep layer of muscle is key to supporting your back. It stabilizes the middle of the body so that the legs can move with much more power.

Some might say that walking is the easiest form of exercise. That is untrue because you should not really be strolling but walking at a fairly fast speed and secondly, it can actually help you lose weight. A University of Utah study in 2014 found that in women, every minute of brisk walking throughout the day could lower the risk of obesity by 5%. Harvard School of Public Health found that walking could cut the effects of obesity-promoting genes by half.


A study conducted with 17,000 Harvard graduates showed that students who walked for at least 30 minutes every day lived longer than those who were sedentary (17). Walking may or may not activate the telomerase enzyme, which is responsible for maintaining DNA integrity, an important factor in aging, but it helps prevent many age-related problems (18).
Most of us who exercise regularly understand that exercise can elevate our mood. There have been a number of studies investigating the effects of exercise on depression. In one of the most recent studies, it was shown that three to five days per week for 12 weeks of biking or treadmill for approximately 30 minutes per workout reduced scores on a depression questionnaire by 47%. It's not a substitute for therapy in a depression that causes someone to be unable to function (in which case medication and/or psychotherapy may be necessary), but for milder forms of depression, the evidence is persuasive that it can help.
According to a study done at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, a moderately-paced walk for about 30 to 45 minutes daily can increase the number of immune system cells in your body and over a period of time, it can have really remarkable effect on your body's ability to fight disease. To be more specific, walking at least 20 minutes a day could reduce the risk of getting sicker by almost 43%.

Mitochondria inside the muscle increase in number and activity. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells. They do all the heavy-duty work to keep you moving. They use the oxygen to burn the fat and carbohydrate that makes you go. The good news is that they increase in number and activity, by as much as 50%, in just a matter of days to weeks in response to regular aerobic exercise in adults of all ages.
Walking doesn't burn calories as quickly as a number of other aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming or riding a bicycle. Walking, however, is a low-impact exercise that is ideal for a wide range of people, including those who contend with joint pain and aren't physically able to perform more up-tempo exercises. If you choose to use walking as your main source of aerobic exercise, set your weekly schedule to allow for a minimum of 2.5 hours of walking.
The simplest method of starting is just that, simple. Select the number of minutes you'd like to walk for (let's say 20 minutes for your first walk) and head out the door or step on the treadmill and go for it. Remember that to make it aerobic you want to walk at a pace that leaves you feeling "warm and slightly out of breath" and one that you can sustain for the time that you planned. In this case, set your sights on completing 20 minutes and pace yourself to do it. If you start too quickly, then you may poop out too soon. It's not important how fast you do it; it's just important that you attempt to complete the time. If you find 20 minutes is too ambitious, then start with less. Again, the most important thing is to get started. You can always add more later on.
You can use the cue "warm and slightly out of breath" to gauge your aerobic activity, or you can get more precise and use heart rate. I recommend the heart rate reserve method for calculating a target heart rate. The formula and an example of the method for someone 27 years old, assuming a resting heart rate of 70 beats per minute (bpm), and a training range of 70%, may be found below. Aerobic exercise falls in the range from 40% to 85%. You can plug in your own values to find your aerobic range.
“This has all been scientifically proven,” says Hall. “Dr Darren James, research fellow at South Bank University, has done a study showing all this. WalkActive significantly and statistically improves your posture, increases your walking speed by up to 24%, reduces joint impact, joint stress at the knee and at the ankle and improves your body shape.” It is, unmistakably, a fitness programme, as in, you would undertake it for the same reasons as an aerobics class, to lose weight, or at the very least, redistribute it in a more sightly way. I did several 10-minute walks, and while never out of breath, was certainly more tired at the end than I would normally have been.
According to a study done at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, a moderately-paced walk for about 30 to 45 minutes daily can increase the number of immune system cells in your body and over a period of time, it can have really remarkable effect on your body's ability to fight disease. To be more specific, walking at least 20 minutes a day could reduce the risk of getting sicker by almost 43%.
4. Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, et al. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007; 39(8):1423-34. Abstract available at: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2007/08000/Physical_Activity_and_Public_Health__Updated.27.aspx
Walking doesn't burn calories as quickly as a number of other aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming or riding a bicycle. Walking, however, is a low-impact exercise that is ideal for a wide range of people, including those who contend with joint pain and aren't physically able to perform more up-tempo exercises. If you choose to use walking as your main source of aerobic exercise, set your weekly schedule to allow for a minimum of 2.5 hours of walking.
When you slap your foot on the ground like some undifferentiated plate of meat, it negates all your ability to use the muscles at the back of your body, and loads all the work on to your hip flexors. Feet have the same structure as hands – tarsals, metatarsals, phalanges. We should experience the same articulation, the same wriggling and precision, the same fine motor-skilled attention to the detail of the exterior world, but we don’t: it’s more of a slap, slap, slap, or at best, a pad, pad, pad.
The elliptical machine may seem intimidating at first, but it’s easy to use once you get the hang of it. After warming up, keep your posture upright while you use your legs in a pedal motion to move the machine. Look forward the entire time, not down at your feet. Keep your shoulders back and abdominal muscles engaged. Cool down and exit the machine to stretch.
It makes the world feel more fundamentally right. I think it’s because our species is supposed to walk. We are built to walk. We are not built to sit, or crouch, over computers or phones. We are not built to slump on sofas, binge-watching box sets. We are built to stand up, swing our legs, plant our feet, and just go. Of course doing one of the things our bodies are primarily designed to do, would make our heads feel really and truly good.
"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.
Vary your route if you're getting bored. To increase your fitness, add a route with some hills or changes in terrain. Or alternate routes on different days of the week. Keep your workout interesting. Many people walk with a buddy or in groups for support and motivation. While lots of walkers swear by their iPods to keep them going, others prefer to pay extra attention to the sights and sounds around them. Find the solution that keeps you moving.
Classes are generally rated as beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Choose the level that fits your condition. It's no fun taking an advanced class if you're a beginner. It will be hard and frustrating and you won't enjoy the experience. Watch the class or speak with the instructor to help you decide what's right for you. Sometimes it comes down to the class time that fits your schedule, but just be sure to not get in too far over your head.
‘Aerobic’ exercise refers to exercise that requires the consumption of substantially more oxygen than at rest. It is of a light to moderate intensity, and can be undertaken for a prolonged duration (many minutes to several hours) without excessive fatigue. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, swimming or cycling at a steady pace. Another example would be dancing or ‘aerobics’ classes.Regular exercise causes your body to make adjustments that result in improved health and physical functioning. Continuing with regular exercise enables your body to maintain these benefits. Regularly doing the right types of exercise at the correct intensity, and for an appropriate duration, results in the most benefit.The benefits of aerobic exercise can be broadly categorised as either ‘fitness’ (physical capacity) or ‘health’. Fitness and health are linked, and most forms of aerobic exercise will help you achieve both.Fitness — including increased cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance (stamina)Regular aerobic exercise improves your cardiovascular fitness by increasing your capacity to use oxygen. It does this by increasing your heart’s capacity to send blood (and hence oxygen) to the muscles. This is mainly achieved through an increase in the size of the heart’s pumping chambers (ventricles), which means that your heart doesn’t have to beat as fast to deliver the same amount of blood. This is evident in a slower resting heart rate, and a slower heart rate for the same exercise intensity.As you get ‘fitter’, particular activities (such as walking or jogging at a specified speed) will become easier.You’ll also be able to undertake the activity for longer (known as endurance), and/or at a higher intensity (e.g. jogging at a faster speed). The same applies to activities such as cycling or swimming, but it should be noted that fitness tends to be specific. So jogging will provide only limited benefits to your swimming fitness and vice versa. However, a side-benefit you may notice is that you also have increased stamina for the everyday activities of life, not just for exercise.Other fitness improvements occur in the exercising muscles, and are specific to those muscles being used in the mode of exercise (e.g. walking, running, cycling, or swimming). These include an increased capacity for the muscles to take up and use the additional oxygen being delivered by the heart.Reduced risk of certain health problemsRegular aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. It can lower blood pressure and improve your blood cholesterol by reducing the levels of LDL-cholesterol (so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol) and increasing the amount of HDL-cholesterol (so-called ‘good’ cholesterol). It can also reduce anxiety, stress and depression, as well as instilling a general sense of well-being. Regular aerobic exercise has even been shown to have the potential to increase your lifespan.Low-impact aerobic exercise such as swimming is valuable for improving general health and fitness in people who have arthritis or other conditions that limit their ability to do weight-bearing exercise.Importantly, whereas fitness tends to be quite specific, many health benefits can be gained from any form of aerobic exercise. Additionally, the health gains can be achieved from relatively moderate amounts of exercise — moving from a lifestyle involving no exercise to one that involves some exercise can lead to substantial improvements in health.Weight controlAerobic exercise burns up energy (calories). Regular sessions of 30 to 60 minutes of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise (at around 55 to 70 per cent of maximum heart rate) can be an important part of a weight loss or weight management programme that is also mindful of the energy (calories) consumed as food.However, many of the health benefits associated with aerobic exercise occur independently of weight loss. Evidence from large studies has shown that active, overweight people do not have a greater risk of many diseases than inactive people who are not overweight. From a health perspective, it is of course best to be both active and a healthy weight, but if weight reduction is a problem, it doesn’t mean that the exercise is having no benefit.Improved bone and muscle healthYour risk of osteoporosis (excessive bone thinning as you age) can be reduced by regular weight-bearing aerobic exercise such as brisk walking.By stimulating the growth of tiny blood vessels in your muscle tissues, aerobic exercise has also been shown to lessen the pain experienced by people who have fibromyalgia or chronic low back pain, as the oxygen supply to the muscles is improved and waste products are removed more efficiently.Social benefitsRegular aerobic exercise can have social benefits too, whether you walk with a friend, play tennis with workmates, or form a social cycling team. Exercising with friends can also be the most effective way of ensuring that you do it regularly.Aerobic exercise precautionsAs with any form of exercise, be aware of over-exercising, either by doing aerobic exercise too hard, for too long or too often. This approach can lead to injury, and abandoning of your fitness programme. Remember to build up gradually from your current activity level, and not to progress too rapidly. If you are new to regular aerobic exercise, several weeks of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise are usually advised before introducing more vigorous aerobic exercise sessions.If you have existing health problems, are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, or have muscle, bone or joint injuries, check with your doctor before undertaking an aerobic exercise programme. Also, men aged over 40 years and women aged over 50 years who have not exercised regularly in the recent past should check with a doctor before undertaking a programme of vigorous physical activity. Last Reviewed: 11 January 2010
Aerobic training increases the rate at which oxygen inhaled is passed on from the lungs and heart to the bloodstream to be used by the muscles. Aerobically fit athletes can exercise longer and harder before feeling tired. During exercise they have a slower heart rate, slower breathing rate, less muscle fatigue, and more energy. After exercise, recovery happens more quickly. Aerobic fitness can be measured in a laboratory setting while exercising on a treadmill or bicycle. This is called maximal oxygen uptake or VO2 max.
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone density, which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. The good news is that exercise may increase bone density or at least slow the rate of decrease in both men and women. It may not work for everyone, and the precise amount and type of exercise necessary to accrue benefits is unknown, but there is evidence that it can help. In children there is good news, too. It seems that active children have greater bone density than sedentary children and that this may help prevent fractures later in life.
Walking is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to stay physically fit. It's also a versatile form of exercise that can be done indoors (many malls and public buildings offer walking routes) or outdoors, and you can tailor the intensity of your exercise based upon your individual abilities and goals. Whether you'd like to begin walking for exercise, for weight loss, or if you're already established in the habit, these tips can help you get the greatest benefits from your workout. "Power walking," or walking rapidly with exaggerated swinging of the arms, burns even more calories.
Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Incorporate a warm up, cool down and stretches into your routine. Start your walk at a slow warm up pace, stop and do a few warm up / flexibilty drills. Then walk for the desired length of time. End your walk with the slower cool down pace and stretch well after your walk. Stretching will make you feel great and assist in injury prevention.
Walking can also increase your lung capacity. When you walk, you breathe in more oxygen as compared to when you are stationary. This exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide at a larger volume can help increase your lung capacity, thereby increasing your stamina and exercise performance (16). The best part is, you don’t even have to run. A medium-paced 60-minute walk (with breaks, if you need them!) can do the trick.
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.
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