Going to the gym can be great but there are also decent workouts hiding in other places. Find out what benefits walking sessions offer.
Something to note is that while walking is better than nothing, many people also want to consider more challenging workouts to get more health benefits too.
Even if you are only able to deal with low-impact workouts, certain activities like cycling, swimming, and using an elliptical machine can be effective.
1. Walking is a low-impact exercise
One of the main benefits that stand out in walking is how easy it is on your body.
In more complicated words, walking is a low-impact exercise which means the shocks your body experience are relatively light. Especially compared to something like running.
So much so that in a survey of the European Knee Associates walking was one of the five recommended forms of exercise to do within the first 6 weeks after a knee replacement (together with water aerobics, stair climbing, swimming, and static cycling) (1).
This can be great because the human body tends to become weaker if you don’t train it.
There are many people for whom more intense workouts could lead to injuries which in turn, would lead to more sitting still.
Instead, starting with something lighter like walking can help you prepare your body for more intense workouts that offer more benefits.
2. Walking could help you lose weight
Excess body fat can lead to an increased risk of a variety of negative conditions. Luckily, there are ways to remove this (or prevent it from showing up).
Since walking can help you burn up more energy, it can help you get to the point where you use up more energy than is coming in from the things you eat.
In simpler words, walking can help you lose weight to some extent if your habits in other lifestyle areas are good enough.
To put the results you can get into numbers, it can be helpful to look at how many calories walking burns.
30 minutes of walking at an average speed of 3 mph (4.8 kmh) can help the average person burn around 103-178+ calories depending on a variety of details.
The numbers will likely not look the exact same for you but it does make it clear that walking can help you lose belly fat and more generally weight to at least some extent.
At the same time, it is important to note that there are more effective workouts for this purpose too.
For example, running is way better than walking in terms of how much extra energy you can burn.
3. Walking could improve muscle endurance
One of the fun facts about walking is that while this activity mainly works your cardiovascular system, you also engage a few skeletal muscles to a certain extent.
Most people will not see any actual muscle growth from walking but that does not mean engaging your muscles with this activity does not offer any other benefits.
More specifically, walking could still help you improve muscle endurance, slow down muscle degradation, and make your muscles healthier.
Some of the muscles you work out with walking include:
- Glutes (butt)
- Hamstrings (back thighs)
- Quadriceps (front thighs)
- Hip adductors (inner thighs)
- Hip abductors (outer thighs)
- To some extent core muscles like your abs, obliques, and erector spinae
If you like the muscle engagement benefits above, you could consider walking with extra weights like a weighted vest, heavy backpack, or wrist weights.
That being said, if you are serious about keeping your muscles strong and healthy, you likely want to do weight lifting workouts instead of walking.
4. Walking could keep your cardiovascular system healthy
As briefly mentioned, walking is a type of workout that is mainly challenging for your cardiovascular system.
Your heart, lungs, and blood vessels move a variety of important substances throughout your body.
When you move more intensely while doing something like walking, your cardiovascular system has to move more of these substances and work harder.
As long as you don’t overdo it, this is a benefit of walking since challenging your cardiovascular system can strengthen it.
Something you do want to keep in mind is that more intense walking alternatives tend to be more effective for training cardiovascular health (if you don’t challenge this system too much).
5. Walking can improve your mood
How good you feel is not only the result of the thoughts going on inside of your head. There are a variety of other ways you can influence your mood.
Additionally, you can say that improving your general health with walking also helps you reduce your risk of conditions that make you feel worse.
6. Walking is easy to combine with other activities
Because walking is not the most intense workout, it is easy to find enough attention to combine it with other activities.
More specifically, a daily walk can be great to listen to your favorite music, listen to your favorite podcast, or catch up with friends and family.
In turn, this could make it at least somewhat easier to fit all the things you want to do into your busy schedule.
7. Walking is a budget-friendly way to move more
There are many workouts that require you to invest in exercise equipment. While this can definitely still be worth it, you may prefer to keep your fitness budget low for now.
In that case, walking could a good option.
To do this activity you basically only need a good pair of shoes and some decent clothes. Many people already have these things anyway.
One thing to note is that something like walking in the rain does require some extra gear like a good rain jacket.
That being said, it is still fair to say that the low budget required is one of the benefits of walking.
8. Walking is easy to do outside
There are many valuable benefits to outdoor exercise thanks to the extra sunlight and potentially due to the extra nature you experience.
That means that walking in nature may have added psychological benefits over doing the same physical effort in an urban area or gym.
Another study found that a 3-hour walk in nature evoked higher positive emotional responses and lower negative emotional responses compared to both a sedentary group and a group that did a similar walking workout indoors (12).
While more research is welcome, you can say that how easy walking makes it to exercise outside will generally be a positive point.