There are many reasons why walking exercises are so well-liked. Walking has the same fitness and health advantages as other low-intensity steady-state cardio (LISS) exercises.
They are also accessible and convenient. You can stroll without a fancy gym or a lot of equipment. You may tailor a walking workout to your individual skill level. They’re also beneficial for people of all ages and fitness levels.
The term “hot female walk,” which has taken the social media platform by storm, is credited to TikToker @exactlyliketheothergirls. She credits the “hot girl walk” for her weight loss makeover in her January 2021 video (which details her playlist and other recommendations).
Three million people watched the video, which also gave rise to the popular hashtag #hotgirlwalk (540.3 million views), which has since appeared in videos by @meeksbruh (16.6 million views), @virginiakilmartin (1.6 million views), and @nataliexelise (1.6M views).
But are walking’s virtues exaggerated? Here, we dispel some fallacies regarding walking as exercise and provide evidence to support it.
1. Myth: 10,000 steps a day of brisk walking is ideal
Many people set a daily target of 10,000 steps, but Amy Bantham, DrPH, CEO and founder of Move to Live More, a health and fitness consulting business, says that this statistic was originally created as part of a marketing campaign. Research on patient exercise behavior change and physician exercise referrals has been done by Bantham.
According to Bantham, there is not currently sufficient scientific data to prove that this figure represents the best goal for improving health over a lower daily step count.
Up to 10,000 daily steps, when the advantage leveled off, a study earlier this year in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine did indicate that walking more steps each day was incrementally connected to higher benefits in terms of lowering the incidence of cancer and heart disease as well as mortality.
What is more evident from the studies, according to Anthony Wall, a personal trainer and the American Council on Exercise’s (ACE) head of international business development, is that doing more steps is typically associated with greater benefits. Another study, released in JAMA in 2020, found that persons who walked 8,000 steps per day had a 50% lower chance of passing away than those who only walked 4,000.
as an example. And compared to those who only took 4,000 steps each day, those who took 12,000 had a 65 percent lower risk of passing away.
The final issue is that it’s still unclear exactly how many daily steps must be taken to reap the greatest benefits. Even though many people find that counting steps is a solid, concrete goal, Wall argues that other fitness milestones like time and frequency are as useful.
2. The benefits of walking for digestion and the immune system
According to Stanford Medicine’s sports medicine physiatrist, doctor, and surgeon Michael Fredericson, MD, people who walk tend to catch colds less frequently since modest activity boosts their immune system. An upper respiratory tract infection (like the common cold) is 43 percent less likely to strike people who exercise five days a week or more than those who don’t (the study specifically looked at aerobic exercise, not just walking). This finding comes from research that was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The research revealed that even 20 minutes of moderate activity on at least one day per week,
You have a lower risk of getting sick. To arrive at these conclusions, the researchers examined whether study participants become ill over a 12-week period.
According to Fredericson, walking or exercising causes your heart rate and blood flow to increase, which in turn causes your immune system’s circulation to increase.
Additionally, the increase in blood flow is what kickstarts your digestive system. One tiny study, for instance, discovered that drinking water or a digestif like brandy, aquavit, or espresso alone after a meal did not keep things moving through the digestive tract as well as exercising and drinking water did.
3. Myth: Walking may treat anxiety and depression
The majority of exercises are linked to benefits for mental health, however, most of the time no one exercise, like walking, can treat a psychiatric problem by itself.
How can exercise impact mood? According to Fredericson, most people operate in a sympathetic, or tenser, state, and exercise can shift a person into a parasympathetic, or more relaxed, one.
And more endorphins are produced in the brain due to increased blood flow there. Whether we are adults trying to get beyond writer’s block or children attempting to focus in the classroom, it can help us refresh, recharge, and refocus, according to her.
4. Myth: Walking Is Always Better Than Running
According to Bantham, walking is a low-impact workout that has advantages such as enhancing endorphin release, boosting blood flow to the body and brain, and enhancing bone health without putting an additional load on your joints.
According to Fredericson, running is more physically demanding on the average person than walking, and there is a lower risk of injury. Plus, anyone may participate in this low-impact sport. He claims that running requires more talent and that some people’s bodies are better suited to this sport. According to him, your body weight, hip and knee alignment, and the structure of your foot’s arch can either set you up for problems or help you succeed when running.
It all boils down to one basic question: What is your goal, Wall continues when people wonder whether they should run or walk. Running is a better exercise if you want to become in shape and enhance factors like oxygen capacity and CO2 output, he claims. Walking is better for things like lowering blood pressure, feeling better, or getting a better night’s sleep.
When walking for the same amount of time as running, research shows that it can lower the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
5. Myth: You shouldn’t exercise by walking each day of the week
Walking is a low-intensity activity, therefore it is quite fair for individuals to go outside and do it every day, according to Wall. “People are walking every day in these walkable places in the United States if you think about any population in a city,” he claims. One advantage is that, provided they don’t have any previous medical concerns, most people can perform it on a daily basis.
Fredericson advises taking one rest day per week or switching up your workout regimen to include swimming or cycling if you are really pushing yourself on your walks.
For significant health benefits, adults should engage in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (such as brisk walking) or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (such as running) each week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PDF).
6. Reality: To burn more calories, you must walk more quickly.
Any action will burn calories, but the more intensely you exercise, the more calories you will burn. That also applies to walking. According to Bantham, the number of calories burned during a specific workout depends on the person’s weight and body composition.
Based on activity and weight range, Harvard Health provided comparisons of the number of calories burned in 30 minutes. Walking for 30 minutes at 3.5 miles per hour burns 133 calories, whereas walking for 30 minutes at 4 miles per hour burns 175 calories for a 155-pound person.
This means that if your objective is to lose weight, you’ll need to walk for longer or at a higher intensity than you would with other exercises, according to the expert.
Intervals, which alternate between periods of greater and moderate or lower intensity exercise, are a terrific method to increase the difficulty of your walks and the number of calories you burn while you’re out there, according to Fredericson. Interval training is beneficial for fitness since it raises heart rate above that of leisurely walking, which leads to greater fat and calorie burning.
7. Myth: To reap the health benefits of walking, you must do so continuously for 30 minutes.
Wall that people walk 30 minutes per day, five times per week to meet the HHS Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans’ target of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity.
However, a typical misunderstanding is that you have to finish these 30 minutes in a row, according to Fredericson. The same advantages of walking for 30 minutes once a day can be obtained by breaking it up into shorter segments and walking for five to ten minutes at a time several times throughout the day, according to him.