We humans need to exercise in order to stay healthy. Exercise protects against disease and early death, and keeps us mobile and able to perform daily tasks.
Walking is an easy, free and enjoyable form of exercise. But is a nice stroll enough to confer the life-saving benefits we know come from exercise?
We posed this question to five specialists in the field.
Jackson Fyfe, lecturer in applied sport science, Deakin University
No: Walking is, of course, better than no exercise at all, but to maximize health benefits, a combination of aerobic-type (running, cycling, swimming) and strength-type exercise (lifting weights or bodyweight exercises) should be performed regularly. We know being unfit shortens life, and countering the losses of muscle strength/power and bone density as we age can improve our ability to perform daily tasks while reducing the risk of falls and associated complications.
Walking alone is simply not sufficient for most people, although it may provide a platform for more specific, intense exercise. So moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength training should also be incorporated into regular exercise programs. Of course, this does not mean walking does not have benefits, but there are aspects of the health-promoting effects of exercise that walking alone cannot provide.
Carol Maher, National Heart Foundation senior research fellow in physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep, University of South Australia
Yes: Physical activity is linked to important and wide-ranging health benefits, such as reduced risk of heart disease, excess weight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety, osteoporosis and many cancers. Walking at a moderate pace (5 km/hour, or 3.1 mph) can largely achieve these benefits, especially if it’s done in continuous bouts (say, 10 minutes or more at a time). Of course, the benefit is even greater if you can get some higher intensity exercise in such as brisk walking or walking up a hill, and throw into the mix some physical activity that challenges your strength and balance.
Julie Netto, lecturer, Curtin University
Yes: Walking brings many benefits. Walking is an activity that can easily be graded up or down to tailor to your personal goals. You can easily change pace or intensity, or the distance covered. Using Nordic poles (hiking sticks) can also modify the activity so it’s more than just a lower limb exercise. Walking on different gradients and surfaces or carrying a load while walking can add variety and challenge to your workout. In terms of convenience, you can easily walk on a treadmill too. Walking has been shown to have many physical health benefits and holds promise in alleviating depression. There are also socially supportive aspects to walking, where you could get to know people in your neighborhood or community, especially if you’re a dog owner.
Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/14/health/walking-exercise-partner/index.html
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