With the term ‘cardio workout’ someone may only think about the intense exercises like long-distance running, energetic aerobics class or high-intensity cycling. But there is a simpler version as well regarding whom many of us are unaware, and that is walking.
Hurried walking is one of the most excellent cardio workouts. Whether it is indoor or outdoor, you can do it everywhere you prefer. There is no restriction on timing as well. Day or night, you can walk anytime.
For walking, you do not need to lots of extravagant fitness gear or any gym membership. All you need is just a pair of comfortable and durable shoes and the enthusiasm to drive you up.
It is a very efficient yet straightforward cardio workout. So, let’s dive into the facts and benefits of walking as one of the best cardio exercises. Also, we will discuss here ways to better health and fitness.
Is Walking A Good Cardio Workout?
Cardio is the short form of ‘cardiovascular’. It is the combination of heart, i.e. cardio and blood vessels, i.e. vascular. People also interchangeably use the term ‘cardio’ with ‘aerobic’. Aerobic means’ with air’.
A good cardio workout makes the heart to pump faster and more reliable. It transports the oxygen-rich blood extra proficiently to all the organs, tissues and muscles. The blood circulation mechanism of the whole body gets better.
Someone may do all high-intensity physical activities which pump up blood like running. They may wonder about the fact that ‘can I consider walking as cardio?’. The truth is, any activity involving the lungs, heart and the large muscle groups is considered cardio workout or aerobic exercise. So, a brisk walk fulfills all these conditions.
Benefits of Walking
There are so many merits of walking which boost cardiovascular fitness. A brisk and regular walking routine serves these advantages:
- Improves blood circulation
- Lessens the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke
- Controls high blood pressure
- Manages the sugar level of blood
- Controls the levels of cholesterol
- Strengthens muscles
- Makes the bones stronger
- Improves the sleep
- Controls body weight
- Improves body balance as well as coordination
- Boosts up the energy level
- Expands brain function
Is It Better To Walk Than Run?
Brisk walking is a moderate-intensity workout. That means you can label your walking as ‘brisk walking’ is you can continue a conversation while walking but face too much struggle to sing at that time. Undoubtedly running is a more challenging task than walking, and that is why it is a vigorous-intensity workout.
Research from the American Heart Association journal stated that running and walking reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. But you will have to walk for a more extended period to achieve the same result as running.
If there is no time constraint for you as well as you are suffering from any injuries, back pain and joint issue then you should go for walking because walking puts less pressure on the feet and joints than running. A study from 2016 discovered that in the case of running the effect force is significantly higher than walking.
Whether you walk at a moderate pace or a high pace, this force remains lower in walking. So, walking is a better option to reduce joint pressure and avoid any unexpected injuries.
What Should Be Your Pace For Walking?
You can take the ‘talk test’ to measure the speed of walking. By taking this test, you can ensure the correct pace of walking, which is ‘fast, but not too fast’. So, this is how the test procedure goes-
- Low-intensity pace: If you can sing very easily
- Moderate-intensity speed: If you can talk reasonably and comfortably with a bit breathlessness
- Vigorous-intensity pace: If to talk out loudly is hard for you to do
Another way of measurement is the ‘Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion’. It measures how tough you feel regarding the working of the body at any given task.
The scale of this measurement ranges from 6 to 20. Point 6 mainly means there is no exertion. That means it is like sitting quietly and reading a book. Point 20 is the level where you’re your work is going very, very much hard. You cannot maintain this task for very long.
If you want to walk in a moderate-intensity pace, you have to walk at a level of 13 to 14 of the scale. With this speed, the breathing and heart rate of you will increase, but you will not feel the breathlessness. And if you want a more rapid pace, then you have to maintain the level of 15 to 16.
And if you are somebody who is just beginning to walk, then try to maintain the pace of brisk walking scaling from 3 to 3.5 miles per hour. For the already quite active persons, the desirable speed will be 3.5 to 4.5 miles per hour. And for the people who are ready for racewalking, then go above 5 miles per hour.
How Frequently Should You Walk?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that moderate-intensity physical activity of 150 minutes or more or else vigorous-intensity activity of 75 minutes or more each week is beneficial for overall health and reduction of disease risk.
According to this guideline, one can do 30-minute brisk walks five times a week. If it sounds scary for you, then you can break this portion of time down into more controllable chunks. For example, you can do-
- 10-minute of walks each day
- 15-minute of steps each day
If you want to achieve the ultimate benefits of walking, you should try to walk for at least 10 minutes at a time.
When someone is at the beginner stage, then he can start by walking on flat ground. And as soon as strength and endurance get increased, then it will be suitable to walk the small hills upwards.
Guidelines For Starting A Walking Routine
Wear lightweight and breathable clothing
For more comfortable walking, you should choose loose-fitting clothes which are lightweight and breathable. Also, the dry-fit fabrics will be a good option that wicks away sweat. It will help in keeping your body dry and cool.
Invest in an enjoyable pair of walking shoes
When you are going to start walking, you have to ensure having beautiful and comfortable walking shoes. These shoes will have to be lightweight yet capable enough to provide a cushioned support for both of the heel and sole of your feet.
Before starting to walk, you have to warm up for a few minutes. This warm-up session helps to increase the blood circulation throughout the body and gets the joints and muscles prepared to move. Some simple sunny up steps are here-
- You have to stand on one leg and then swing the other leg gently back and forth for 10 to 20 times. And then change the pins.
- Doing a set of squats is also a proper warm-up. You have to stand at a distance of feet hip-width. Keep your back straight with lowering the hips till the thighs are in a parallel position with the floor. Pause for a while with the knees on your toes. Then exhale and stand again. Could you do it for 8 to 10 times?
- Stand at the shoulder-width distance and keep your arms straight at your sides. Then move your arms at backward circles for 1o times and do the same with forwarding circles.
Stay safe at outdoors while walking
While walking at the outdoors, make sure to apply sunscreen, wear a hat and sunglasses. And if you are walking in the colder weather, then dress in layers of cloths which you will be able to peel off after being warmed up. Keep enough water with you to be hydrated throughout your walk.
Make it a fun session
People may get bored while walking. For removing the boredom and keep the session fun you can try these ways-
- Walk with companions or join the walking group
- Walk your dog
- Listen to music
- Use an app or fitness tracker to set goals and see yourself winning the challenge
Tips For Treadmill Walking
First learn how to operate a treadmill, how to start or stop and change the incline and speed.
It is better to walk on a treadmill with side handrails, especially if you have any issue of maintaining balance. Do not lean or hang on to the rails. Poor posture and significant strides may increase injury risk.
Walking is indeed one of the best cardio workouts for the people who want to boost up their cardio fitness. You can walk at any time anywhere. For being motivated, you can walk with a friend or listen to your music or set goals in a fitness tracker.
The central fact is you have to maintain a good pace that is challenging to your cardiovascular system and try to follow the walking tips properly.
Last Updated on April 6, 2022