Of all the different forms of exercise, that’s available for fitness, one of the most underrated is Fitness Walking.
Before we discuss the benefits of fitness walking, let’s understand what it is.
When we walk normally we often call it a stroll.
During a stroll, we are usually not conscious of the body’s movements. Our breathing rate is only slightly higher than when at rest. The muscles in our body are being used but not exercised.
Fitness walking, on the other hand, is done consciously. We still walk as before but focus on technique and pace.
It is also popularly known as power walking.
30-minute walk a day can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, and Type-2 diabetes.
American Heart Association
You maintain good walking posture, step up the pace and engage your core. As you progress, you will be able to pace yourself so that your breathing rate is increased yet you are not out of breath.
What Fitness Walking is not
- It is not about walking too fast or over-striding. This makes you short of breath and tire quickly.
- It is not about moving your arms too fast or vigorously. There are no additional benefits in doing this.
- Do not look down all the time during the walk. This leads to poor form and technique.
- Do not tense your upper body. This strains the back and also results in poor form and technique.
- It is not advisable to carry hand weights or place weights on your ankles.
- Do not get too distracted when walking. If you do, simply release the distraction and come back to the present moment. To maximise results, pace yourself and stay focused on engaging your core.
Do What Works for You
As fitness walking is an aerobic activity, you will ideally need proper walking shoes and be suitably clothed.
At times I find the above advice hard to follow. As a consultant, I am travelling often and don’t always have my walking gear handy. I often step out of the office during lunch for a brisk 20-minute walk if the weather is nice. 🙂
How far would you walk for fitness in a day? It’s really up to you. Personally, I try to keep to the recommended 10,000 steps a day (which is roughly 5 miles).
An activity tracker like Garmin Vivofit 2 is the perfect fitness companion that will keep you motivated.
Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.
Benefits of Fitness Walking – My Top 10
There are many so benefits to fitness walking, I could go on forever :).
My top 10 are listed below.
|10 Benefits of Fitness Walking|
Fitness walking is a moderately aerobic activity and improves cardiovascular fitness.
Studies have shown fitness walking to greatly reduce the risk of the major NCDs (non-communicable disease), including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) and musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain.
Fitness walking burns nearly the same amount of calories as jogging yet it is easier on the body.
According to studies conducted by researchers from California State University, ” Walking and running are both acceptable activities that increase EE (Energy Expenditure) above rest and can be performed without the expense of a health club membership and meet adequate kilojoule expenditure according to American College of Sports Medicine guidelines.”
Tones and strengthens the muscles in your body and gets you fit.
When proper form and technique are maintained during fitness walking, the body is exercised optimally. As you get stronger, you may need to consider a strength training program to compliment your fitness walking.
Helps in reducing cravings and other addictions like smoking and naturally, promotes the desire for healthy eating.
I always go for my fitness walk before I eat. Not only do I get the exercise out of the way, I also end up eating a smaller portion. And I also find myself going for the healthier foods. Win-Win-Win!
You will notice an improvement in the quality of sleep at night.
It is important to note here that you try and finish your fitness walk at least 3 hours prior to bedtime. Or even better, get it out of the way earlier in the day. This is because any form of exercise causes the release of hormones that make one alert.
You will experience improved energy levels during the day.
This is probably why the best time in the day for your fitness walking is first thing in the morning. A moderately aerobic activity coupled with the release of ‘feel good’ hormones in the body will set you up for holistic success in mind, body and spirit!
Your mental well-being will improve. Things that caused anxiety earlier will no longer have the same hold on you. You will experience less stress overall.
It’s those awesome ‘feel good’ hormones again! They are the primary reason for feeling ‘euphoric’ after your fitness walk. Read about them here.
Many aches and pains resulting from a sedentary lifestyle fade away.
The muscles in the body are being flexed during fitness walking and aches and pains due to inactivity are reduced as a result.
Improves the body’s overall metabolism and also helps in detoxing the body.
Detoxification is an essential bodily function which is greatly supported by regular exercise. Ridding the body of excess waste leads to a stronger immune system, weight loss, and many other health benefits.
Last but not least, you can do this with a friend. It’s fun, make it social.
It’s fun to buddy up with others and do it together. Not only do you get to exercise, you get to strengthen bonds with colleagues and friends.
Are you a fitness walker? Please share your experience in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you and read your experience.
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