It’s no secret that walking is a great form of exercise.
The benefits of walking for mental and physical health
Walking has long-been touted as an ideal way to boost mood, keep weight in check and improve overall health. Even recent news has honed in on studies showcasing the health benefits of walking in that it has the ability to help older people maintain agility (1) and that, across all ages, it can even help heighten creativity (2).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults get 2 hours and 30 minutes (weekly) of aerobic activity such as walking at a brisk clip and says that people need not walk for long, intense intervals to reap health benefits; according to their web site, “It’s about what works best for you, as long as you’re doing physical activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time (3).”
The CDC notes that walking is indeed enjoyed by many, adding that “More than 6 in 10 people walk for transportation or for fun, relaxation, or exercise, or for activities such as walking the dog (4).”
Growing trends and thoughts that tend to overlook benefits of walking
Still, despite its benefits and its popularity, walking has some criticisms.
Some experts say that when it comes to weight loss, running, not walking, is ideal. Others say just the opposite. Duration, intensity, terrain (treadmill, sand, pavement, etc.) also come into play. Every single one of them are factors not just when it comes to weight loss, but in achieving optimal health.
And yet, there’s more to it.
Many times friends of mine who are avid runners or cyclists chalk up walking as something that is reserved for fragile old folks who stroll in parks, hands clasped behind their backs. I suppose it’s understandable.
After all, this has become a world filled with Tough Mudder events, weight loss shows where local grocery store clerks are keen on flipping Monster Truck-sized tires, and fancy exercise names like the “Russian Twist” or the “Corkscrew.” As an aside, is it me, or do these names sound like Happy Hour drinks?
In defense of walking, an incredible health activity
In any event, walking seems to sometimes be thought of as the lesser kind of physical activity. Others are on the fence; it’s ignored by some, adored by others. I, of course, side with the latter and happily tell my triathlon-inclined friends so.
I don’t merely stroll.
I walk until I sweat.
I walk until a parade of mosquitos follow me and my sweat.
I walk throughout my neighborhood and on one of my favorite local walking trails, the WOW Trail in New Hampshire.
I walk on the treadmill at my gym, playing around with various inclines.
I walk up steps two at a time.
And I will continue to walk, even in events with non-walking names like “5K Run.”
I walk because I like to, it makes me happy and of course, the mental and physical health benefits of walking are wonderful.
So, let’s hear it for walking. It’s good for health and is often anything but an easy-going, lunchtime sashay in the park.
Sources for this article include: