Is walking enough physical activity?

Your fitness tracker urges you to get in 10,000 steps every day, but is that all it takes to keep you fit and healthy?

As humans we need some kind of physical activity in order to lead a healthy life. If you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle, exercise is an essential component. But starting an exercise routine can be intimidating. You might have questions about what type of exercise is right for you, your body and your lifestyle. No matter what your past experiences are, starting a new routine can be simple and painless. You could start by simply going for a walk.

Walking is the most popular physical activity undertaken irrespective of the age group, around the world. Walking is free, easily adaptable and can be almost done anywhere.

Benefits of walking

  1. Burn calories When you start walking daily you might start noticing the changes by yourself. Initially even if there is not much difference on the scale, eventually a few inches would have slipped off your body.
  2. Improve blood circulation Walking reduces the risk of heart diseases by bringing up heart rate and reducing the blood pressure.
  3. Improves your mood Walking releases endorphins thus benefiting you emotionally. It also helps in reducing anxiety, depression and stress thereby boosting your self-esteem.
  4. Improved sleep quality Studies have found that people who walk regularly are less likely to be insomniac than the ones who don’t don’t.
  5. Strengthen muscles Walking regularly can tone up your legs and abdominal muscles. It helps protect knee and hip joints lubricating and strengthening the messages that support them.

Is walking enough exercise?

Walking of course is any day better than no exercise at all. However, when it comes to making a significant impact on your overall health and well-being, helping improve your physical capacity and function, it may not be enough. Moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength training should also be incorporated into regular exercise routine. “Walking at a moderate pace (5 km/hr) can largely achieve the benefits, especially if done in a continuous bouts (say 10 minutes or more at a time)”, says Carol Maher, a physiotherapist.

Walking every day for at least 30–45 minutes is more exercise than the physical activity that most people do. If you make it a routine, eat in moderation and don’t have any other excessively unhealthy habits, then that’s a nice way to stay healthy for a long time. (PS- relative to your own body and medical history — exercise is not, by itself, a guarantee against falling sick if you have genetic predispositions towards any specific disease).

If you have more specific goals around strength, speed, flexibility, Abs or other appearance related constraints, then it may not be enough to achieve those. So depending on what you want, a walk every day could be enough. The question is, what do you want?

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