Walking is one of the most effective and accessible forms of cardio exercise.
It’s low-impact, easy to do, affordable (all you need is a pair of shoes), and often enjoyable — especially when paired with a great friend or playlist.
Also, if you struggle with sugar cravings, research shows that a 15-minute brisk walk can help curb them.
Here, we offer the lowdown on the many benefits of this basic form of cardio exercise and explain how to use it to benefit your health and fat-loss.
Walking is cardio?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardio exercise is any activity in which you move your large muscle groups in a rhythmic manner for a long period of time, causing you to breathe faster and your heart to beat faster.
As you continue with cardio exercise over time, you will strengthen your heart, lungs and blood vessels.
By the CDC’s definition, brisk walking is cardio.
As you walk, measure your level of effort on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 corresponds to sitting, while 10 corresponds to all-out physical effort.
A brisk, moderate-intensity walk should feel like a 5 or 6.
Can you lose weight by walking?
If you’re overweight, mostly sedentary, and/or new to exercise, walking is an easy and effective way to introduce physical activity into your daily routine.
And even if you’ve been exercising for a while, adding more walking to your routine can increase your overall daily activity level, which is important for losing weight and keeping it off.
In fact, a long-term study has been published American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Walking has been found to help people lose both And Weight maintenance over a 15-year period.
But exactly how many pounds you lose by walking — and how quickly you lose them — will depend on a number of factors, including your fitness level, diet, exercise intensity and frequency, body composition (fat mass-to-fat mass ratio). Intensity of your walking.
Harvard Medical School estimates reveal that a 155-pound person can expect to burn about 149 calories during a 30-minute walk at a 3.5-mile pace.
But if that same person walked 4 mph, they would burn about 167 calories.
For best results, combine the walk with a healthy diet.
Also, try to walk as much as possible during the day as opposed to limiting physical activity to your planned workouts.
A few easy ways to move more each day: take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk during phone calls, park farther away, and take the extra trip to get groceries to your house or apartment.
After a while, you need to do more than just walking to lose fat.
If your results are lagging, take it as a sign that it’s time to increase the intensity of your exercise.
You can transition to running or cycling — and eventually, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) once you’re fit enough — and incorporate other forms of exercise, such as strength training, into your weekly routine.
How much should you walk each week?
Walk as often as possible to stay healthy.
But at the bare minimum, follow the recommendations outlined by the CDC, which require at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity cardio, such as brisk walking, per week to improve overall health.
At that pace, you can cover up to 10 miles of walking a week! But don’t feel like you have to walk for hours to see the benefits.
If you can’t fit a long session into your schedule or you’re new to exercise, meet your walking quota by breaking your sessions into smaller, more manageable chunks (eg, two or three 15-minute walks per day).
Remember: every little bit counts – especially if you keep your pace fast.
Is walking better than a gym workout?
Walking offers a handful of benefits that you can’t get from a gym workout — it’s low-impact, free, and can be done almost anywhere — but it’s not better than going to the gym.
As mentioned earlier, if you are just starting your fitness journey, walking is a great place to start.
But even if you’ve progressed to the point where you need to switch to more vigorous exercise—which usually requires a gym, such as for strength training—you should still walk as much as possible.
This is especially true if your goal is to lose weight, as increasing your overall daily activity (eg, walking more) can help keep your metabolism humming at a higher level.
In short, once you start walking further, don’t stop.
It’s one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to improve your health and improve your fitness level.