Have you ever listened to someone full of confidence make a blanket statement on a topic and then wondered if they were either seriously misinformed, or just a tad delayed in cognitive reasoning? Here is one of those statements I recently heard from a clearly overweight and and out of shape gentleman that was the catalyst for this topic;
“Walking is not exercise”.
Are you serious? I am here to tell you that not is only walking exercise, it is one of the most beneficial exercises you can do for yourself. It is great for your heart, and it is the most restorative exercise you can do following an injury. It is excellent for someone wanting to do cardio after strength training because it is not only low impact, it will not cause any loss of lean muscle such as running can cause. If you are losing unwanted pounds, it is imperative that you maintain as much lean muscle mass as possible, walking will allow you to do this. Walking is great exercise! When we run, we not only burn through fat, we also burn through lean muscle mass. Think about this, have you ever seen a marathon runner that was a big muscular individual?
A mistake that people make when dieting and using running for their exercise is not understanding that when you run, your body relies on calories to gain energy. The most readily available energy stores come from glycogen. When your body burns through glycogen, it begins burning fat. The amount of time this takes varies depending on the intensity of your run, your diet and similar factors, but this usually takes about 30 minutes. If you continue running for an extended period of time after your body begins burning fat, your body also starts burning muscle. The problem for dieters who do not understand nutrition is they can often become malnourished which means you’ll burn muscle more quickly when you run.
Of course some of the main benefits of running include weight loss, stress release, and stronger heart and lungs, but as with most anything that affects your body, you need to know there is often more to the equation than you might know.
Why do we need to maintain lean muscle?
Because as we age, aerobic capacity, muscle quality, as well as agility naturally decline. It is important to exercise and stay active as you get older to preserve functional fitness. The more fit you are, the longer it can take for your body to get out of shape. Additionally, your lean muscle mass affects your metabolism, the more you maintain, the better your metabolism will be for keeping body fat off. Lean body mass is more “metabolically active” than fat, meaning that muscle burns more calories at rest than fat. Two individuals that are the same height and weight can have very different metabolic rates, based on their body composition. Lean body mass is one factor that we can control in order to increase our metabolism and burn more calories!
Benefits of walking for exercise;
Most people can get out and walk, which isn’t just good for you, it is one of the easiest forms of exercise to incorporate into your day-to-day life. Additionally, it is not even arguable that being physically active reduces your risk of developing health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. When people diet to lose weight, they often lose some muscle in addition to body fat. This is counterproductive, as muscle is more metabolically active than fat. This means it helps you burn more calories each day. Walking, can help counter this effect by preserving lean muscle when you lose weight by reducing the drop in your metabolic rate that often occurs with weight loss, making your results easier to maintain.
When it comes to nutrition and weight loss, people make it more difficult than it needs to be. For exercise you do not require anything fancy or high priced, a simple daily brisk walk can help you to live a healthier life.
For example, regular brisk walking can help you:
Maintain a healthy weight
Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
Strengthen your bones and muscles
Improve your mood
Improve your balance and coordination
The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.
Walking has it all. Simple and natural, it doesn’t require any instruction or skill. It can be a very modest form of exercise or it can demand enough skill and intensity to be an Olympic sport. You can walk alone for solitude or with friends for companionship. You can walk indoors on a treadmill or outside in the city or country, at home or away. You can get all the benefits of moderate exercise with a very low risk of injury. And to boot, walking is inexpensive. All things considered, Charles Dickens got it right: “Walk to be healthy, walk to be happy.”