You go to the gym, start your favorite playlist hopping on the treadmill, crank it up to 6 mph and pound out a runIf you're anything like I have been in the past, while your hustling for those miles you’re silently judging the person walking next to you.
Why would anyone come to the gym if they're just going to walk? What a waste of time!
OK...trainer confession...I've been 'that' girl!! Am I alone here? Wait for it...
The truth is, experts say we’re unfairly placing the form of exercise in the pointless category, AND you may be missing out on an extremely effective physical activity, not to mention a mental boost, by dissing walking. “Walking can be as good as a workout, if not better, than running,” says Dr. Matt Tanneberg, CSCS, a sports Chiropractor and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in Phoenix, Arizona who works with elite athletes.
You may have experienced 'plateauing' a VERY common issue in fitness. I have clients who plateau from running ALL THE TIME. They run the same distance, speed and time, day in and day out, and wonder why there are struggling to see CHANGE in their physique and overall fitness. To change our bodies, we have to constantly switch up our exercise routines in order to get the maximum benefit for your health. Yes, running is more physically demanding, which leads people to label it a “better” workout, but walking is a really great form of exercise and can help you reach your fitness and weight-loss goals, quickly and safely.
As a former track athlete, who has marveled at race walkers (These Olympic walkers will blow your mind), I don’t scoff at walking anymore, in fact, walking is the suggested workout over running for most, especially those with knee, ankle and back problems and people who are overweight to obese. Walking is a lower impact exercise and can be done for longer periods of time, and there is no shortage of scientific research to back up the effectiveness of adding walking to your fitness routine.
The Physical Pros of Walking
"There are many reasons to walk for exercise,” says Ann Green, M.S., past heptathlon world athlete, yoga teacher and fitness studio owner. “Walking improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood, creates less stress on joints and reduces pain, can prevent weight gain, reduce risk for cancer and chronic disease, improve endurance, circulation, and posture, and the list goes on…”
When comparing the data of the most recent National Runners’ Health Study with the National Walkers’ Health Study, researchers found that the energy used for 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 study’s 6 year period. Which means when it comes to some pretty prominent markers of our health, walking can do the job just as well as running (as long as you’re expending the same amount of energy).
This is GREAT news if you're like me and you dread running. 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, and those who adhered to a walking program showed significant improvements in blood pressure, slowing of resting heart rate, reduced body fat and body weight, reduced cholesterol, improved depression diagnosis, better quality of life and increased measures of endurance.
And, as if that isn't enough to convince you...
The Mental Pros of Walking
While physical benefits are GREAT , the mental benefits from adding a walk to your daily workout regime is a more immediate BOOST. BOOM! Psychologists found that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to relieving the symptoms of anxiety. Science shows that engaging in activities that allow our minds to wander promotes a mental state conducive to new ideas and epiphany moments.
Who wouldn't benefit from a mental lift??
I'm drinking the kool-aid!!
The act of walking is also a proven MOOD BOOSTER. One study found that just 12 minutes of walking resulted in an increase in joviality, vigor, attentiveness and self-confidence versus 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 negative emotions and raises risk of depression.
Walking has also been shown to improve memory and prevent the deterioration of brain tissue as we age, and psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression also suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to relieving the symptoms of anxiety and boosting mood.
Ok, Ok, I get it...NOW what??
Turn your walk into a workout
You CANNOT set the treadmill at 3.5 walk for an hour and expect to see major results!! The power of an effective walking workout is at yo