Walking is one of the most effective and accessible forms of cardio exercise available.
It’s low-impact, easy to do, affordable (all you need is a good pair of shoes), and often enjoyable, especially when paired with a good friend or a playlist.
Plus, if you struggle with sugar cravings, research shows that a 15 minute brisk walk can help curb them.
Here we bring you the many benefits of this most basic cardio exercise and how to use it for your health and fat loss.
Is cardio walking?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiovascular exercise is any activity in which you move your largest muscle groups rhythmically for an extended period of time, causing you to breathe faster and your heart to beat faster.
By continuing to do cardio exercise over time, you’ll strengthen your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
According to the CDC’s definition, brisk walking is cardio.
As you walk, rate your level of exertion on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is seated, while 10 is full physical exertion.
A brisk, moderate-intensity walk should feel like a 5 or a 6.
Can you lose weight by walking?
If you are overweight, fairly sedentary and/or new to exercise, walking is a simple and effective way to introduce physical activity into your daily routine.
And even if you’ve been exercising for a while, adding more walks to your routine can increase your overall daily activity level, which is essential for losing weight and keeping it off.
Indeed, a long-term study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that walking helped people both to lose and maintain weight for a period of 15 years.
But the exact number of pounds you lose walking — and how quickly you lose them — will depend on several factors, including your fitness level, eating habits, exercise intensity and frequency, body composition, and more. (ratio between lean mass and fat mass) and the intensity of your walks.
Harvard Medical School estimates reveal that a 155-pound person can expect burn about 149 calories during a 30-minute walk at a pace of 3.5 mph.
But if that same person increases the pace to 4 mph, they will burn about 167 calories.
For best results, combine walking with healthy eating habits.
Also try to walk as much as you can during the day, instead of limiting physical activity to your planned workouts.
A few simple ways to get around more each day: take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk during phone calls, park farther away, and take extra trips when carrying groceries around your house or apartment.
After a while, you may need to do more than just walk to continue losing fat.
If your results are stagnating, consider that a sign that it’s time to increase your exercise intensity.
You can switch to running or cycling – and possibly high-intensity interval training (HIIT) once you’re fit enough – and incorporate other forms of exercise, such as working out. in force, in your weekly routine.
How much walking should you do per week?
To stay healthy, you need to walk as often as possible.
But at the bare minimum, follow the recommendations described by the CDC, which require at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity cardio, such as brisk walking, per week to improve overall health.
At this rate, you can walk up to 10 miles per week! But don’t think you have to walk for hours to see the benefits.
If you can’t fit a long session into your schedule or are new to exercise, stick to your walking quota by breaking your sessions into smaller, more manageable chunks (e.g., two or three 15-minute walks per day).
Remember: every little bit counts, especially if you keep up the pace.
Is walking better than a gym session?
Walking offers a handful of benefits you can’t get from a gym workout – it’s low impact, free and can be done just about anywhere – but it’s not not necessarily better than going to the gym.
As mentioned earlier, if you’re just beginning your fitness journey, walking is a great place to start.
But even if you’ve progressed to the point where you need to move on to more vigorous forms of exercise, including those generally considered to require a gym, such as weight training, you should still walk as much as possible.
This is especially true if your goal is to lose weight, as increasing your overall daily activity (for example, by walking more) can help keep your metabolism at a higher level.
In short, once you start walking more, don’t stop.
It’s one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to improve your health and raise your level of fitness.