Walk Your Way Through this Pandemic
by Jamie Spannhake
May 03, 2020
Humans were built to walk. It's a wonderful exercise, and it often doesn't feel like working out. It's the best of both worlds: relaxing and rejuvenating while conditioning the entire body, including muscles, heart, and respiratory & circulatory systems.
During this forced pause of pandemic, many people have taken up walking: walking on trails, walking on sidewalks, walking down the street. It's the perfect exercise right now because walking also provides perspective, allowing us to reduce tension and stress. It even provides time to catch up with a friend at a safe social distance.
If you are like me, I have been gravitating to less strenuous exercise as a place for rejuvenation during quarantine, rather than wanting to work out hard.
So I wanted to know if walking is really "enough" exercise for staying healthy. The good news is that the answer is "yes"!
Here's what I learned:
1. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which means it's great for building and keeping strong bones. This is especially important as we get older, to avoid the negative effects of osteoporosis.
2. The top physical benefits of walking include increased cardiovascular fitness, improved balance, increased muscle strength, increased endurance, and reduced body fat.
3. Walking "briskly" for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week is the best way to ensure you get all the benefits of walking. "Brisk" means that you can talk but not sing; in other words, you may be slightly short of breath.
I am usually a runner, which I do for cardiovascular health and for maintaining my weight.
I also wanted to know if walking is as good for me as running. The answer is yes!
We use essentially the same amount of energy to walk or run the same distance. It's just that walking takes longer. So I can burn the same amount of calories at the same distance but not in the same amount of time. Right now, I have more time so it's okay for me to focus on walking. When things are back to a more normal routine (when will that be?), I can go back to running in order to burn those calories in the reduced amount of time I'll have.
So if you, like me, are doing a lot of walking but not a lot of "working out," don't fret. You are staying healthy.