We love running, and there's no doubt that running is an efficient way to burn calories and increase cardiovascular health, but it has its drawbacks: runners are far more likely to sustain injury than people who walk or engage in other low-impact sports, and research suggests that frequent and long-term training for endurance events like ultramarathons and triathlons can even lead to serious cardiac issues. Walking, on the other hand, provides many of the same health benefits, without the likelihood of injury.
Like running and other forms of exercise, walking 1 to 2 hours a day has been shown to stave off disease and extend life expectancy. And according to the American Heart Association, 150 minutes a week of walking at a quick pace can reduce your risk of common diseases like heart disease and diabetes; improve blood pressure, mental health, and sleep quality; and prevent weight gain, among other benefits. Walking is also significantly less risky than running. It's easy to see why - as one study notes, "running produces ground reaction forces that are approximately 2.5 times body weight, while the ground reaction force during walking is in the range of 1.2 times body weight." On average over half of all people who run regularly will experience injury at some point, while walkers can essentially walk as far and as long as they want without serious injury.
So, while runners may reap the benefits of physical activity sooner, a daily walking routine will have a similar positive effect on your health with very little downside. The best part about walking is that it's easy to incorporate into your day with minimal disruption to your schedule. Setting aside an hour or two to dedicate to walking can do a lot for your mental as well as physical health, but not everyone has an hour at a time to spare. We get that. Most people, though, can probably factor in four 15-minute walk breaks during the day, or walk for 30 minutes on a lunch break and 30 minutes before or after work or school. We know that it's better to move frequently throughout the day than to sit for several hours at a time with one extended period of activity; committing to several short walking breaks over the course of your day, even if that simply means foregoing the elevator or taking the long way to the restroom, is a great option when you're pressed for time.
Getting more exercise is easier than you think, and walking is probably the most readily available way to do it. Whether you're looking for a way to get active, sidelined from running due to injury, or just ready to give your joints a break, go take a walk. You'll feel better.
Join us for a free group walk at 6PM at Fleet Feet Raleigh on Wade Ave.
Get more info and sign up here.