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Is Walking Enough of a Workout?

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Is Walking Enough of a Workout?

By Vicki Santillano, DivineCaroline

When I’m feeling anxious or sad, a long, brisk walk is a surefire way to cheer me up. All I need are a pair of comfortable shoes and good music and whatever’s troubling me falls away, step by step. And despite how many miles I log, it never feels like exercise because it doesn’t meet what I consider to be exercise’s requirements — sore, aching muscles and sweat soaking through my shirt. Walking is too fun to be considered exercise — or so I thought.

A recent report suggests that high-intensity exercise might not benefit us as much as we think, which makes me wonder if my walks make the gym skip-able. Can walking be enough of a cardio workout?

How Much Exercise Do We Need?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, we should get sixty to ninety minutes of exercise a day. That sounds intimidating, but the recommendation doesn’t specify what type of exercise — just that we should be on our feet for an hour a day, and not even all at once. Many Americans don’t come close to this, which spurred the “10,000 steps a day” recommendation (equivalent to about thirty minutes of walking).

Walking is the most popular type of exercise in America and it’s not hard to see why. After all, taking a walk requires little money or preparation and isn’t nearly as intimidating as running or other strenuous activities. A 2007 Duke University Medical Center study found that people who walked thirty minutes almost every day of the week lost weight and lowered their risk for metabolic syndrome. But as great as 10,000 steps a day is for our health, it’s not a replacement for a good sweat session. Making your walk a workout requires more than taking a simple stroll around the block.

Walking Can Work — But It Takes Work, Too
Anything that raises the heart rate into its target cardiac zone — about 60 to 80 percent of the maximum heart rate is considered a good aerobic workout. So as long as we walk quickly enough to increase our heart rates significantly, we can count it toward those sixty to ninety minutes.

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DivineCaroline

At DivineCaroline.com, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

174 comments

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11:08PM PDT on Mar 26, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

7:14PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

Great article, thanks for sharing! Should have mentioned how nice it is to go outside and explore for a while!

11:47AM PST on Feb 19, 2012

As an avid power walker, this is a great article. I was a runner for two years, and my knees began to ache so much that my doctor told me to quit running and start walking, especially on an incline. LOVE at first stroll.

6:48PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

10,000 steps a day is NOT equivalent to 30 minutes of walking...isn't 10,000 steps roughly 5 miles, depending on your stride length? And at around 20 minutes per mile, that's an hour and 40 minutes of walking.

2:17PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Thank you for clearing that up for me. I've been wondering if walking is enough exercise for awhile now. I don't really want to pay a gym membership, but was worried that walking wouldn't cut it.

5:50AM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

I do it every day of the week, a 60 minute walk, and enjoy every minute of it!

8:42PM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

I love walking! Outdoor walking is the best, as we get to enjoy & connect with nature. When I'm stressed, I'll take a walk in the quiet park, listening to the sound of birds chirping, water running and wind blowing. Bliss... it's mild exercise for our body too!

9:27AM PST on Mar 1, 2011

Walking for 45mins per day always helps. It helps more of you can walk at pace, so that your heart is beating much faster after your walk.

2:34PM PST on Dec 30, 2010

I'm glad to see an article saying that one doesn't have to spend money on gym sessions or equipment to get a "proper workout". I walk almost everywhere (I don't drive and live within two miles or so of most places I need to be) and it's a relief to think I needn't worry about the amount of exercise I get.

5:46PM PDT on May 22, 2010

Thank you for the article "The point isn’t that people should stop exercising, but that challenging one’s body to complete exhaustion takes a physical and emotional toll that might override its benefits." Such an important difference between 'feeling the burn and burnout.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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