You and I unconsciously walk several thousand steps each and every day. This is something, health permitting that we all consider to be a fairly natural process. So you may well indeed ask, if walking "counts" as good exercise.
Does Walking at Work Count as Exercise?
Does walking at work, or indeed normal daily walking to the shops, or the school pick-up qualify as exercise at all? Alternatively is the reality that it has very little impact on our health and physical fitness?
Well the good news is that all of the recent research shows that walking is an under-appreciated but very effective form of exercise.
Walking – Better for Your Heart Than Running?
Research was conducted on 33,000 runners and 15,000 walkers by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the USA. When the same amount of energy was used, those that walked were healthier than those that ran or jogged.
This was a serious study, in-depth and detailed study which covered 6 years, and included participants both male and female from age 18 to 80.
Running did reduce the risk of heart disease by 4.5% over someone who was sedentary. However, walking reduced the chances of contracting heart disease by more than double that figure, a full 9.3%.
First time high cholesterol risk was lowered by a full 7% by those in the study who walked. The runners did lower their cholesterol risk, but by just 4.3%.
Is Walking a Good Exercise for Your Thighs?
Comparing and contrasting running to walking is a good thing to do. That is because both of those activities use the same muscle groups, and mainly the legs and thighs. Also, the fact that running is more intense than walking was thought to lead to more health benefits.
Actually, the opposite has been discovered. It is thought that this may be because the continual pounding your body receives while running puts more pressure on your limbs, muscles and joints than walking. So in simple terms although jogging works the heart and lungs a lot more, it has an adverse impact on knee joints and ankle joints.
This data was reported in the American Heart Association health journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. The fact that such a large sample size was used, age groups covered more than 60 years, and both men and women were employed as test subjects gives these incredible findings a lot of validity.
Is Walking a Good Exercise to Lose Weight?
In all honesty it actually depends on a number of things. If you have done no exercising for years and start to walk, then of course it will help you lose weight. That however does assume that you are a regular walker going forwards, and also have a sensible diet.
You could not for example start a walking plan and then eat more. If however you are a regular walker and you then try to see if that will help you lose more weight, the only way that can be achieved is to walk for a longer distance, walk faster, or walk up steeper inclines.
Is Walking a Good Exercise for a Bad Back?
Not necessarily so. It will depend on what is wrong with your back. My strong advice would be is not to walk until you have had a proper back diagnosis from a medical specialist. For example if you were having particular disc problems, then walking would be the last thing you want to do.
If you were having muscular back problems, then it would also depend on the exact nature of the muscle problem. With back pain you need to find out what the problem is and only then can you decide if walking is a good idea or not.
Do you need more proof of walking as good exercise?
Dr. Dawn Marcus is a neurologist and professor at the University of Pittsburgh. She points to recent medical research which shows that "… consistent walking is better for your health than infrequent strenuous exercise."
She has published a book titled "Fit as Fido: Follow Your Dog to Better Health".
In it she recommends walking your dog frequently, for the health benefits this activity delivers to both you and your furry friend.So, is walking a good exercise? The research seems to show that not only is walking a valid exercise, it may be more beneficial for you than running and some other forms of exercise.