As a hound, I do a lot of walking. People are always asking me if walking is ‘good’ cardiovascular exercise. My answer is always, “It depends.” Because, you see, it really does depend upon a variety of factors. Yes, walking is exercise, but are you really getting anything out of it?
Well, any time you move, you are burning additional calories, but it is the quality of the movement that matters most. So, a stroll through the park will burn calories, but take that same walk at a faster pace, and really accelerate the calorie burn. Walking at a pace of 4 miles per hour over a pace of 3 miles per hour can net you another 125 to 200 calories per hour, depending upon how much you weigh.
This is because your present weight is another factor of calorie burn. Someone who weighs 200 pounds is going to burn more calories than someone who weighs 150 pounds. Hey, I know it doesn’t sound fair, but it’s a fact. When you carry around more weight your body has to do more work to just move the mass around so you burn more calories.
There are other things you can do to make a walking workout more effective. Upping the pace to a power walk, which is just under a jog, will burn a lot more calories than just strolling along. You can also add hills to your walk, because the incline causes your muscles to work harder. Not only will you burn more calories, but those lower body muscles will start to tone up in no time. Hills make a great butt!
Another thing that you can add to a walking workout is a set of light hand weights. Carry one to three pound hand weights on your walk and you’ll burn additional calories each minute.
Walking is a really good choice for those who have joint problems, since it is low impact-even a power walk is low impact and it burns just a few calories less per hour than a job. This means little stress on the joints. If you are someone who can’t participate in high impact aerobics or running, then walking is for you.
Start slow-for beginners, 30 minutes a day, four to six times a week is a good start. But soon you will need to increase your distance to an hour a day six days a week to see improvements.
Walking workouts lead to an improved cardiovascular system, reduced risk of heart disease and a reduced risk of some cancers.
In addition, working out helps you to sleep better at night, and it reduces stress-great reasons to lace up your gym shoes and head out the door. Grab your spouse, your kids or your neighbor and make it a social activity-just make sure not to chat too much or you will find your pace slowing!