Can You Really Get Fit From Just Walking?

By Siew Ching

Move aside Pilates and spinning, the workout for the year is as simple as walking round the park.

Do a quick search for #hotgirlwalk. You’ll be surprised to see how many posts you’ll get of people doing a super simple workout – walking! This easy exercise that many of us often take for granted is hitting the workout scene of late as the exercise to do if you want a low impact but high results workout.

And there's a good reason for it! For starters, it is easy to do and you can do it anywhere, anytime. Just put on a good pair of shoes and walk on, my friend! You know how you’ve been hearing the whole 10,000 steps a day to get healthy? It’s essentially a way to break out of a sedentary lifestyle without having to commit yourself to workout sessions or a gym membership.

In fact, experts have been saying that you don’t even need that many steps – the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that walking just 4,000 steps a day can reduce the risk of diseases while 2,337 steps a day will prevent cardiovascular diseases. The next time you want to take the lift, consider taking the stairs instead!

Lose Weight? Get Fit? Is Walking Enough For All That? Let’s get real – while any form of moving or activity can help reduce chances of diseases, can walking alone make you fit or even lose the extra kilos?

Yes, if you walk enough and make it a big part of your daily routine, say the experts. You see, we’re not just talking about a stroll in the park (though even doing this can make a huge impact to both your physical and mental health as it can help reverse the effect stress has on you) but we’re talking about walking as an aerobic activity. Which means really getting down to it with brisk walking and putting in the effort for more steps, more time.

Like any exercise, brisk walking, especially over long distances, can be a very effective calorie burner. It’s as good as running but minus the injuries. And it’s a lot easier to do, especially if you struggle with the stamina and intensity running brings. With just 10 minutes of brisk walking a day, you can burn the calories to trim down your waist!

And of course, the more you walk, the better your workout! But what if there is only so much time you can walk at the park? That’s the beauty of this workout – walking can be done anywhere! For instance, instead of driving to the nearest mamak or kopitiam, why not walk there instead? Coming home with the MRT? Choose a stop that allows you to put in some extra minutes on foot. Planning a catch up? Arrange to meet for a walk or hike over the weekend instead of coffee.

Did we also mention how walking is a great stress reliever? Researchers found that walking can increase your creative output by 60 percent. That’s why many times you’re asked to take a break and walk around instead when you’re stuck with an idea! Also, walking is said to be a proven mood booster whereby with just 12 minutes of walking, you’ll experience an increase in joy, vigour, self-confidence, and focus. Add in nature as your “gym” when you’re walking and we’re willing to bet that your daily walks will truly make a huge impact on your mental health!

Ready to take your leisure walks up a level? Here are some tips on how to improve your fitness by walking.

#1 Pick up the Pace
You can start slow first but if your aim is to lose weight, start walking briskly to burn the calories. If you struggle at first, add in intervals – alternate your pace by walking at a regular pace for one minute then speed walk the next minute. The trick is to adjust your routine so you make progress. When your walk starts to feel easier, it’s time to either go faster or add on the minutes.

#2 Incline, Baby!
Just like any other exercise, you can reach a plateau if you walk the same route every day. So switch things up! Make your walking count by finding a route with some elevation. This will engage your leg muscles more than walking on level ground so hills it is!

#3 Stay Motivated with Apps
Nothing like tracking your progress to keep you motivated! There are many apps you can download to do this, with some even allowing you to link with buddies so you can help each other stay motivated. If you can, invest in a smartwatch that will help track your step goals. It will feel good when you hit that 10,000th step!

#4 Watch Your Posture
It’s an exercise still so watch your posture when walking to improve the benefits and engage the right muscles. Head up, round your shoulders, swing your arms and tighten your core. Your walk will be much more effective this way! While you’re at it, get the right gear. Wear shoes with proper arch support and thick soles to absorb shock and cushion your feet.

Photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash.

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