Is Walking Good Exercise? 8 Common Myths, Busted!
Walking is an amazing way to stay fit and take care of your physical and mental health, but somewhere along the way, a few people got their wires crossed and started to question the benefits. If you’ve ever wondered is walking even good exercise? Is walking actually good for you? Then it’s time to bust these common walking myths and set the record straight!
Walking doesn’t have many health benefits
People often think that due to its lower intensity, walking surely can’t offer that many health benefits. You might be pleasantly surprised to hear that according to the Mayo Clinic, a brisk walk can lower your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and stroke.
Other benefits listed in the The American Council on Exercise’s Walking Toolkit include reducing your risk of high blood pressure and blood sugar, certain cancers, obesity, osteoporosis, vascular disease and more.
Walking also is a great way to boost your cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength (especially if you include some inclines) and promote the production of those mood-boosting, stress-reducing endorphins. So yes, walking is very good for you. We can see why Sweat’s Head Trainer Kayla Itsines loves it so much!
Kayla takes her dogs for walks and is also a big fan of walking on her NordickTrack treadmill while catching up on her favourite TV shows. You’ll also find LISS sessions (low-intensity steady state cardio) are a regular feature in many Sweat programs!
You need to walk for at least 30 minutes to benefit
According to a report from Harvard Health, walking for 2.5 hours a week — that’s just 21 minutes a day — can help to cut your risk of heart disease by 30%, while the University of Utah found that for every minute of brisk walking women did throughout the day, they lowered their risk of obesity by 5%.
A 2018 study on young adults also found that just 10 minutes of brisk walking was enough to experience mood improvement. When it comes to walking your way towards better health, every minute counts!
You need to hit 10,000 steps a day to benefit
Similar to the 30-minute myth, your efforts are not wasted if you don’t hit 10,000 steps. Wondering where that number we’re all so obsessed with came from? We’ve written an article about this exact topic, and discovered the 10,000 step figure didn’t actually originate from a scienctific study, but was the result of a marketing campaign!
So how many steps should you be aiming for? Walking around 7,000 steps a day is plenty to significantly lower your mortality risk, and even around 4,000 steps can offer health benefits. Beyond the seven or eight thousand step mark, you don’t actually earn any special extra benefits (apart from the mental satisfaction and sense of achievement!).
Walking doesn’t help with weight management
As part of a healthy lifestyle, which also includes things like good nutrition, sleep and stress-management, walking can be a great way to maintain a healthy weight. The main thing with exercise is to find a training style you enjoy and can stick with long-term. If walking ticks that box for you - amazing!
Walking is for beginners or people who can’t run
Although running is definitely a goal for some people and power walking or a mix of running and walking intervals can be effective ways to build your running fitness, walking is still a fantastic form of exercise in itself.
Walking isn’t great just for fitness beginners, it isn’t great just for people who can’t run, it isn’t great just for people with joint issues… walking is just great. Period. End of story.
The benefits of walking end as soon as you stop walking
You know all of those health benefits we mentioned earlier such as reduced risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers? There isn’t some catch where they’re only activated while you’re walking - they’re long-term benefits!
The endorphins and other feel-good chemicals can also put you in a better mood for hours, while also supporting a better nights’ sleep and helping to lower your stress levels.
Going for regular brisk walks can boost your fitness, so you might notice it becomes easier to climb stairs, jog to catch the bus, or hike with your friends.
Walking doesn’t have to be a challenging workout
While a sunset stroll along the beach probably won’t get you sweaty or puffing, walking can definitely make for a great workout. Increase your pace to a power walk to increase the intensity, or throw in some stairs or hills for added incline burn! You could also carry small hand weights or a heavy backpack if you want more of a challenge.
On the flipside, if a casual walk is more appealing to you, it definitely doesn’t need to feel like a workout for it to have benefits!
Walking is boring
We’ll admit this one is a wee bit subjective, but if you find walking boring, it’s time to jazz things up! There are plenty of things you can do to make it more enjoyable. Try these ideas:
- Find a friend to walk with or chat to on the phone as you walk
- Listen to a great podcast or eBook
- Step to the beat of your favourite playlist
- Try a new walking route or venture further outdoors for a hike in nature
- Walk on new or uneven terrain such as grass or sand to work different muscles and keep your brain engaged
- Set yourself a step target
- Add some LISS goals in the Sweat app and have fun earning trophies and badges!
- Take your dog with you (or borrow a friend’s dog!)
- Give your walk an added purpose such as picking up groceries, a coffee, or running any errands at places like the bank, library or post office
- Walk on a NordickTrack treadmill like Kayla does and watch your favourite TV show
- Turn it into a Hot Girl Walk by putting on your fave tunes and focusing only on the things about yourself and your life you’re grateful for!
If walking really isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to make cardio a regular part of your workout schedule.
Ready to lace up and head out for a walk? Make sure you connect Sweat with your health app on your phone to make sure you’re logging those miles!
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.