It’s no secret that walking is having a serious moment right now. A slew of celebrities have talked about their walking routines and research has shown that hitting a certain step count daily can help lower your risk of future health issues.
But walking has a reputation for being an easier form of exercise. With that, it’s only natural to wonder, Is walking cardio exercise? The short answer: Yes. But while experts stress that getting in your steps under any circumstances is great, there are a few things you can do to take your walking routine to the next level. Here’s what you need to know.
Is walking a good type of cardio exercise?
Cardio is short for “cardiovascular,” which means it involves the heart (cardio) and blood vessels (vascular). Cardio is also used interchangeably with aerobic, which means “with air.”
A good cardio workout gets your heart pumping stronger and faster, moving oxygen-rich blood more efficiently to all the muscles, organs and tissue throughout your body.
You may associate all that blood-pumping action with running and wonder, “Is walking cardio?” The truth is that any activity that gets your heart and lungs, as well as your large muscle groups, working harder can be considered aerobic or cardio exercise. A brisk walk does all those things.
What are the benefits of walking?
There are several advantages of walking besides supporting your cardiovascular system. Regular brisk walking can help:
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases;
- Improve blood flow;
- Manage high blood pressure;
- Improve cholesterol;
- Control blood sugar;
- Strengthen muscles and bones;
- Controlling the weight;
- Improve your sleep;
- Increase your energy level;
- Improve brain function;
Walking Safety Tips
If you are walking along a road, choose a street with sidewalks. Depending on where your home is, it may be safer to go to a different location to walk. You can walk along roads or trails.
If you are near a road and there are no sidewalks, the New York government page for Pedestrian Safety recommends that you walk on the same side as oncoming traffic, as far out of the way as possible.11
If you are worried about walking alone, you should ask a trusted friend to go on walks with you. This is safer for many reasons, but mainly because you will not be alone if anything happens. A friend could call for help if you need it.
The Heart Foundation also recommends walking with a friend because it can provide structure, keep you motivated, and create good experiences. Be sure that both of you bring a phone and ID. If it is dark outside, you should both wear reflective clothing.12
Is walking better than running?
Walking is said to be an exercise of medium intensity, which in a nutshell is defined as an activity that permits people to have a conversation, but it is not easy to sing. While on the other hand, running is a much more complex type of activity, and best cardiac hospitals in India believe that this is intense training.
Both walking and running provide some similar benefits. Studies published in the journal of the American Heart Association said that walking and running reduced these risks for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Always keep in mind that, in order to burn your extra calories and get various advantages that running offers, you will need to walk regularly for a long time period.
But if you don’t have time or don’t want to participate in the 10 km race, walking is best, especially if you have joint problems, injuries or back pain.
Walking creates less stress on the joints and legs than running. A study conducted in 2016 showed that the impact of power when running is much higher than when walking, whether walking moderately or vigorously. This means that walking reduces the risk of joint injuries.
How can you make walking a legit cardio workout?
To get the most workout bang for your buck with walking, you’ve got to find your ideal intensity level, which is challenging but doable, Stonehouse says.
A moderate intensity is considered a three to four out of 10 in terms of effort, if 10 is your all-out dead sprint. (Low would be two, FYI.) Another way to think about it is that moderate intensity is 30 to 40 percent of your heart rate max (HRmax), while low is 20 percent. You can determine your HRmax by subtracting your age from 220. At either pace, you should be able to easily carry on a conversation or talk.
If you’re a beginner, Stonehouse recommends:
- Walk: 15 to 20 minutes (working up to 30 to 40 minutes), 3 to 5 times per week
If that’s literally a walk in the park, try:
- Walk/Run: 20 minutes (alternate between 2 minutes running and 3 minutes walking) 4 times per week, working up to 30 minutes (alternating between 4 minutes running and 2 minutes walking) five times per week
Can You Lose Weight By Walking?
If walking can help you live healthier and longer, can it also help you shed excess pounds? Not exactly. A common misconception is that working out in and of itself can help someone lose weight. Diet is a far more important piece of the weight-loss equation, research suggests.
Despite several benefits of walking for health, at least one study illustrates that daily walks make little difference in weight management. Weight gain is common among first-year college students. Researchers wanted to determine if walking could ward off the pounds. Their study, published in the Journal of Obesity, monitored 120 freshman women over six months. Over the course of 24 weeks, the students walked either 10,000, 12,500 or 15,000 steps a day, six days a week. Researchers tracked their caloric intake and weight — and found that step count didn’t seem to influence the number on the scale. Even students who walked the most still gained around the same amount of weight.
Often, when someone increases physical activity, some of the body’s normal physiological responses kick in to make up for the calories burned. One might start getting hungry more often and may eat more, without realizing it.