There are many things in life that we take for granted. A growing body of evidence shows that walking is one of them. Because we walk every day, without any obvious health benefits, walking is not taken seriously as a form of exercise. If your exercise program doesn’t tire you out and make you sweat, it’s not effective, right?
Wrong. Studies have shown that walking as little as 10-30 minutes a day could extend your lifespan. Health professionals think we should take walking more seriously as a form of exercise and not simply routine as we go about our day.
For example, walking, 7500 steps is thought to be the optimal distance we should strive for every day. One study found that women that walked an average of 4,400 steps a day had a lower mortality rate than women that only walked 2,700 steps or fewer.
Not only that, but health experts suggest there is a misconception that exercise has to be energetic. It goes without saying that most energetic sports can cause long-term damage to joints and ligaments.
For example, one study found that engaging in a walking fitness program will deliver a better outcome than running. Whilst running means you lose weight faster, the impact can also cause damage to the knees and ankles.
Why Is Walking Exercise?
To qualify walking as a form of exercise, we should define what fitness walking is. A stroll in the park doesn’t have as many health benefits as brisk walking, which leaves you out of breath. Brisk walking involves walking faster than your usual pace. A speed of 2-2.5 mph is the estimated pace, but there are no hard and fast measurements to stick to. The rule of thumb for fitness walking is it leaves you out of breath.
Any form of exercise that makes you breathe deeply and burns fat is good for you. This is arguably why walking at a normal pace to and from work is often dismissed as exercise. However, numerous health professionals and institutions recommend walks to patients with all kinds of ailments.
Walking has been found to improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, manage diabetes, distress and alleviate anxiety among others. Given the impressive list of health benefits, the average person may be inspired to walk more often rather than taking the car or public transport.
Walking Oxygenates Your Lungs?
Breathing deeply also helps to improve the immune system. It was known by the ancient yogis of India that oxygen produces white blood cells and plays an important role in the function of the immune system.
The ancient knowledge seems to have been lost to western science, a fact that was evident with the mandates to wear masks throughout the pandemic. More than 150 comparative studies show the PPE masks issued to the public don’t work against Covid.
One of the main issues we have today is that our breathing is too shallow. This means that we are not able to get enough oxygen into the bloodstream. Sitting down also compresses the diaphragm, so we are not able to take in deep breaths.
Deep breathing is known to alleviate stress, enhance cognitive function and promote calmness; conclusions were also drawn by researchers examining the health benefits of walking. Could this be a coincidence, or is it because walking helps you take in more oxygen?