Anyone who enjoys the undeniable joys of a good walk has at some point asked the question, “Is walking cardio?” After all, even those who enjoy the excruciating rigors of high-intensity exercise sometimes like to mix it up at a different pace, and more than any other physical activity, walking offers something for everyone, no matter how fit they may be.
But can we really classify walking as cardiovascular exercise? Whether you want to make the most of those bright summer nights or are looking for that best treadmills (opens in new tab) To make sure you’re making good progress, whatever the weather, you want to know that walking will bring you benefits that are proportional to the time you put in.
What is cardio?
According to that Department of Health and Human Services (opens in new tab), Cardiovascular activity is defined as any activity that gets your heart, lungs and major muscle groups working, and studies show that walking at a pace of 5 to 8 miles per hour undoubtedly qualifies as moderate-intensity physical activity. This provides a variety of benefits including developing aerobic fitness, reducing body fat and resting blood pressure, and improving blood pressure control. Walking also fights weight loss, depression and cardiovascular disease, a study published in shows Plus one (opens in new tab) show that even intermittent walking programs can have beneficial effects on body fat levels.
“The Cardio King? I’d say it has to be walking,” explains Ryan McLean, fitness consultant and personal trainer, “other forms of cardio [such as running or cycling] are beneficial for many other reasons, but I would say they have a lot more specificity behind why you would want to do them. When we look at the benefits of walking compared to other forms of cardio, what stands out is its simplicity and the undeniable ease with which results can be achieved.”
How Fast Should You Go for a Cardio Workout?
However, remember that achieving certain health goals depends on the intensity of walking. Large-scale research as conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine and published in European Heart Journal (opens in new tab), found that reducing a walk below a brisk pace was three times less effective at improving fitness levels or slowing down the inevitable effects of aging. In short, it’s not just about getting those 10,000 steps a day, it’s about much more how You get them when you want the kind of positive effects on your body that are comparable to other cardio-intensive activities.
Although walking requires more monitoring to ensure its effectiveness than other cardio workouts, e.g. B. when using one of the best exercise bike (opens in new tab), which doesn’t necessarily make it an inferior activity compared to more challenging alternatives: after all, the ease with which walking fits into our lifestyle undoubtedly counts for something. “Obviously we won’t run everywhere, we won’t always be on a bike and it’s not always easy to access a swimming pool,” explains McLean, “but we’re always on our feet! You won’t cover the same distance as someone who runs or bikes, but at least you don’t have to commit to a fixed amount of time or special equipment.”
How far should you go in sports?
So when you consider the importance of intensity, how much distance should you cover? According to McLean, it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve: “When someone’s trying to lose body fat, the number one reason someone does cardio is 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day is a good place to start.” If a person is trying to gain weight, such as trying to gain muscle mass, probably a little less. If you want to get fitter for a walking event or develop into running, then aim for between 12 and 15,000 steps a day.”
Again, however, there are other factors to consider. A 2019 study published in the Women’s Health Journal (opens in new tab) on female walkers found that continuous 30-minute walking five times per week resulted in higher intensity performance than walking in shorter bursts. This, in turn, resulted in more significant increases in health benefits, meaning you should aim to lump these steps together in big chunks whenever possible if you want to reap the maximum gains.
Other ways to increase the intensity of your workout
Of course, there are other ways to increase the intensity of your walks than simply lengthening them, although that’s always an option. We all lead busy lives and time can be a factor at times, but a little advance planning can ensure that your walk, even if it’s a short one, gets your body into an aerobic state. “Go up a hill with more incline or just pick up your pace,” explains McLean. “Walking with extra weight in a bag is also an option, but should be carefully considered before attempting it. I wouldn’t recommend changing the intensity of a walk with added weight for the first time. Possibly you could build up to adding weight in a bag on your usual hill walk after completing it a few times.
With key studies demonstrating the effectiveness of walking as a cardiovascular activity, the science has your back if you decide to prioritize heels over bikes, weights or a trip to the pool. As Ryan McLean puts it, “Walking is great, it’s easy, it’s accessible and the risk of injury is low. I strongly advocate that people who want to lose a little body fat, get fitter, or enjoy the challenge of conquering a hill or mountain should just get out there and walk.” Just make sure you invest in one of the best water bottles (opens in new tab) to make sure you stay hydrated!
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