Do you have to walk every day? Is one long walk better than several short ones? And how fast should you walk?

Walking has many health benefits, but be wary of overstated claims, such as those suggesting it can cure a mood disorder. There are many reasons for the popularity of walking workouts. Walking has all the health and fitness benefits of other low-intensity, steady-state cardio (LISS) exercises.

In addition, it is practical and accessible. You don’t need a fancy gym or a lot of equipment to walk. Walking training sessions can be tailored to your personal abilities. They are suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.

But are the virtues of walking overrated? Here we are going to bust some myths and set the record straight about walking as exercise.

1. Myth: Walking 10,000 steps a day is ideal

Many people use 10,000 steps as a benchmark for a daily goal, but that number is actually based on a marketing campaign rather than scientific evidence. There is not yet conclusive scientific evidence showing that this number is the ideal goal for better health than a lower number of daily steps. A study published earlier this year in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine showed that walking more each day was progressively linked to a reduction in the incidence of cancer and heart disease, as well as mortality, until 10,000 daily steps, threshold from which the benefit stabilizes. What is clear from the research is that more steps are generally linked to greater profit. According to another study, published in JAMA in 2020, people who take 8,000 steps a day have a 50% lower risk of death than people who only take 4,000, for example. As for people who take 12,000 steps, their risk of death is 65% lower than that of people who only take 4,000.

Ultimately, the jury is still out on the exact minimum number of daily steps that brings the most benefit. And while step count is a good tangible goal that works for many people, there are other good markers of fitness, such as time and frequency.

2. Fact: Walking helps immune function and digestion

People who walk tend to have fewer colds because gentle exercise boosts the immune system. According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who report exercising five or more days a week (the study looked specifically at aerobic exercise, but not necessarily walking) had 43% less more likely to have an upper respiratory infection (such as a cold) than those who did not exercise during the week. The study showed that even doing moderate exercise for 20 minutes at least one day a week was less likely to get you sick (researchers looked at whether study participants got sick over a period of 12 weeks to reach these conclusions).

By walking or exercising, you increase your heart rate and blood circulation, which promotes the circulation of immune cells in the body. Increased blood flow is also responsible for the proper functioning of the digestive system. One small study, for example, showed that walking and drinking water after a meal helps move things through the digestive tract (what the study researchers call “gastric emptying”). better than drinking a digestive or an espresso or water alone.

3. Myth: Walking can cure depression and anxiety

Most exercises are associated with mental health benefits, but in most cases, no single exercise, such as walking, can cure a clinical disorder on its own. How Does Walking Affect Mood? Most people function in a sympathetic or more stressful state, and exercise can bring a person to a parasympathetic or more relaxed state. Additionally, increased blood flow to the brain produces more endorphins. Exercise can help us reset, recharge and refocus, whether it’s kids trying to focus in class or adults trying to overcome blank page syndrome.

4. Myth: Running is always better than walking

Walking is a low-impact exercise that provides benefits such as releasing endorphins, increasing blood circulation to the body and brain, and improving bone health, without putting extra strain on your body. joints.

For the general public, walking is easier on the body than running and there is less risk of injury. In addition, this low-impact activity is accessible to everyone. Running is more demanding and some people have a body that adapts better to this type of activity. Hip and knee alignment, body weight, and arch shape can either predispose to problems or promote running success.

Many people wonder if they should run or walk and the answer is simple: what is your goal? If you’re looking to get in shape and improve things like oxygen capacity and CO2 production, running is a better tool. If you’re looking to lower your blood pressure, feel better, or sleep better, walking is more appropriate. Research has shown that moderate to strenuous walking can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes by expending the same amount of energy as running.

5. Myth: you shouldn’t walk every day of the week

Since walking is a low-intensity activity, it is perfectly reasonable to get out and walk every day. However, if you put a lot of effort into your walks, it would be a good idea to take one day off a week or incorporate other forms of exercise, such as cycling or swimming, into your routine. Adults should engage in 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (like brisk walking) per week, or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (like running) per week to see substantial benefits in terms of health.

6. Fact: You need to walk faster to burn more calories

Any activity burns calories, but the more you increase the intensity of your workout, the more calories you burn. This is also the case for walking. The number of calories burned during a given workout depends on an individual’s weight and body composition, Bantham says.

Harvard Health University has published comparisons of calories burned in 30 minutes based on activity and weight. A 70 kg person burns 133 calories in 30 minutes of walking at 5.6 km per hour, and 175 calories in 30 minutes of walking at 6.4 km per hour. This means that if a person’s goal is to lose fat, they will need to walk at a higher intensity or for longer than other activities to get the desired results. To make your walks more challenging and increase the number of calories burned while you walk, intervals (alternating between bouts of high-intensity and moderate- or low-intensity movement) are a great way to do this. Incorporating intervals is great for fitness because your heart rate is higher than when you walk leisurely, allowing you to burn more fat and calories.

7. Myth: You need to walk 30 minutes non-stop to get health benefits

Based on the goal of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, you need to walk 30 minutes every day, five times a week, to achieve this goal. However, a common misconception is that you need to complete those 30 minutes consecutively. You can break those 30 minutes up into smaller segments and walk 5-10 minutes at a time multiple times throughout the day and still get the same benefits as walking 30 minutes once a day.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.