The benefits of walking

Simple and natural walking is a great way to improve or maintain overall health. It does not require any special instructions or skills. Walking can be both a modest form of physical activity and an Olympic sport that requires sufficient skill. You can walk alone for solitude or with friends to socialize. Walking allows you to benefit from moderate exercise with a very low risk of injury. In addition, walking is a free form of physical activity. Even Hippocrates BC said that “walking is the best medicine for man.” Why is this so? What is the use of walking? I will try to answer these questions based on the results of various scientific studies and my personal experience.

I partially wrote about the benefits of walking, in the article “Steps to health” . This article will discuss the benefits of recreational (accelerated) walking. Compared to walking at an easy pace, brisk walking for health has more benefits.

What pace of walking is considered fast for lovers? Brisk walking is walking at a pace of about 5-6 km per hour. This is an average of 1 km in 12 and 10 minutes, respectively. For more prepared walking speed can be increased to 6.5 km per hour. It is difficult to go higher than this speed, it is easier to run.

What is walking like a form of exercise?  Walking is an aerobic exercise cyclical exercise. Cyclic means that the same movements are repeated during the exercise. Aerobic orientation of walking is expressed in the fact that as a result of training, the body’s ability to extract oxygen from the air and deliver it to the cells and tissues (that is, the “aerobic capacity of the body”) increases. In essence, this is the preventive and health effect of walking. As a result, the degree of endurance of a person and his “amount of health” increase.

In the process of walking, depending on the intensity of the workout, our body uses various sources of energy (fuel). The main ones are carbohydrates and fats .

We all noticed that when walking of moderate intensity, our breathing is even and nothing interferes with our conversation with the interlocutor. This is the so-called aerobic (oxygen) zone , which is characterized by the fact that muscle need for energy is provided due to oxidation of carbohydrates and fats by oxygen (oxygen sources of energy). Moreover, the oxidation of 1 gram of carbohydrate produces about 4 kcal of energy, and 1 gram of fat – 9.3 kcal. As we see during the oxidation of fats, more than two times more energy is released, but at the same time, much more oxygen is required for their oxidation.

Aerobic regimen is optimal for burning fat deposits that require oxygen. Therefore, the aerobic exercise regime allows muscle cells, which are supplied with a sufficient amount of oxygen, to use fat as the main source of energy. With an increase in the intensity of the workout, the number of calories burned increases.

With an increase in walking speed, there comes a time when the air begins to lack and it is difficult to talk. Due to lack of oxygen, our body tries to switch to oxygen-free energy sources. These sources are glycogen (a complex carbohydrate) accumulated in muscles and the liver, which provides a quick release of energy. However, in this case, a by-product is produced – lactic acid (lactate), which accumulates in the muscles, leads to their weakening, contributes to the appearance of cramps and pain. This training zone is called anaerobic (oxygen-free) .

Anaerobic exercises are very intense and short-term. They are practically not used in recreational walking. Training is only possible for young, well-trained athletes and under medical supervision. Therefore, I will not describe it.

How often do you need to do wellness walking? For beginners, 2-3 times a week are enough for 20-30 minutes at their usual pace. After 2-3 months from the start of training, as the body becomes accustomed to exercise, the number of trainings can be increased to 3-4 times a week for 30-40 minutes. In the following classes, walking can be brought up to 5-6 times a week. At the same time it is necessary to leave for 1-2 days to restore the body. This is just as important as the workouts themselves.

Recreational walking should be carried out in the aerobic zone. However, how to determine that while walking we are in the aerobic zone?  First, you can use the “conversational test.” If everything is normal, then, as mentioned above, there are no problems with the conversation. However, this method is quite subjective. And, to underestimate or overestimate yourself, it is better to focus on a more accurate individual indicator – the pulse (heart rate, heart rate). Pulse should not exceed 85% from the maximum heart rate (MCSS). The MHSS is the maximum frequency with which your heart can beat. The MHSS is calculated as follows: for men, 220 minus age, for women, 226 is taken. And then the upper limit of the heart rate is determined. For example, for a 55-year-old man, the upper limit of the heart rate will be: (220-55) х0.85≈140 beats / min.

So what is the use of walking? Improving walking has several advantages: it is free, does not require any equipment. The benefits of walking are as follows:

  1. Increases the physical capabilities of the heart . It is known that aerobic exercise is good for the heart. Walking reduces the risk of heart disease, improves heart rhythm and strengthens the heart. Walking lowers the level of “bad” cholesterol in the blood while increasing the level of “good” cholesterol. A daily 30 minute walk helps normalize blood pressure. Walking at a moderate intensity can be just as effective at reducing the risk of high blood pressure as jogging.
  2. Disease prevention . Walking can help prevent many diseases. For example, walking for 20-30 minutes reduces blood sugar levels. Regular health walking for 150 minutes a week reduces the risk of developing insulin-independent (type 2) diabetes by about 60%, and reduces the chances ofdeveloping colon and breast cancerby 20%. In addition, it was found that even a small weight loss can delay and possibly prevent the development of the disease. Adding a regular walk to your daily life is one of the easiest ways to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of obesity .

Studies have shown that daily walking reduces the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60. Walking for at least 1-2 hours can reduce the risk of stroke in men by one third, regardless of the intensity of walking.

The study showed that walking at a distance of 3 kilometers or more per day can reduce the risk of hospitalization by about half due to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The risk of blood clots is reduced , and the calves act as a venous pump, contracting and pumping blood from the feet back to the heart, reducing the load on the heart.

  1. Helps to burn excess fat.   Walking is a great exercise for burning fat. While any exercise helps burn calories, a quick walk for 45 minutes ensures the release of fat from the cells and their transportation into the muscles, which allows you to burn stored fat reserves. When walking, you can achieve the intensity at which the largest amount of fat is used as fuel. This is achieved in the range of heart rate (pulse), equal to 60-70% of MCS. In this intensity zone, approximately 85% of fat, 10% of carbohydrates and 5% of proteins are burned. Therefore, this training zone is called the fat burning zone.. It is achieved at a fast pace. It makes it a little harder to breathe, feeling some tension, sweating appears, but you can still have a conversation.

It has been experimentally established that, at a speed of 6 km / h, about 0.7 kcal is consumed per 1 km of the distance traveled per 1 kg of body weight. For example, a person weighing 80 kg with a fast 30 minute walk (this is 3 km) at a speed of 6 km / h burns up to 170 kilocalories (80×0.7×3≈170 kcal), and within 1 hour approximately 340 kcal.

  1. Decreases mental capacity . Walking, can protect the memory center in the brain (hippocampus). It improves cerebral circulation and reduces the risk of vascular diseases, which reduces the risk of senile dementia (dementia) , which often comes with age. Regular walking is one of the best ways to combat the onset and advancement of Alzheimer’s disease . In addition, researchers who scanned the brains of older people found that walking at least 10 km a week can deal with a decrease in brain volume.
  2. Reduced risk of cancer . Walking can reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Results from a study of women showed that walking at least 7 hours a week reduces the risk of developing breast cancer by 14%. Similarly, the study showed that men who were treated for prostate cancer, with regular walking for at least three hours a week, reduced the chances of recurrence of the disease.
  3. Maintains healthy joints . Walking reduces the risk of osteoporosis by stopping bone loss. Studies have shown that a daily 30 minute walk reduces the risk of hip fractures by 40%. Most articular cartilage does not have a direct blood supply. They get their nourishment from the joint fluid. When walking, the cartilage moves and contracts, causing oxygen and nutrients to enter this area. If you do not walk, the joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can accelerate their wear.
  4. Improved muscle endurance . It tones the muscles of the legs, arms and abdomen, which increases the range of motion, reduces the pressure on your joints, and helps reduce arthritis pain.
  5. Mood improves . Studies have shown that the more steps a person takes during the day, the better his mood. This happens because when walking in the body, the natural pain-relieving hormones of happiness, endorphins, are released, and the level of stress decreases. Research has also shown that brisk walking is an effective way to relieve the symptoms of depression . It can be used as an antidepressant in cases of mild to moderate depression. Testing on the standard questionnaire showed that 30 minutes of walking 3-5 times a week for 12 weeks reduces the symptoms of depression by 47%. Thus, walking is an urgent need to promote positive mental health. In addition, walking improves sleep.
  6. Breathing improves. When walking, the respiratory rate increases, which causes blood to saturate with oxygen, slags and toxins are removed from the body and the level of energy and the body’s ability to heal increase.
  7. X odba is an excellent way to increase the content of vitamin D in the body. People who rarely go outside have vitamin D deficiency, which affects important aspects such as bone health and the immune system. Walking is an excellent way to supplement the body with vitamin D outdoors.
  8. The body’s resistance to adverse environmental factors increases : high and low temperatures, trauma, blood loss, hypoxia (lack of oxygen), radiation, and emotional stress.
  9. Improves glycemic control, especially after meals. Just 15 minutes of walking after a meal improves blood glucose control in older people with poor glucose tolerance. Try to walk as close as possible to a meal to help with weight loss.
  10. Beneficial effect on the spine. Walking nourishes the structures of the back, promotes reliable circulation and pumping of nutrients in soft tissues and removal of toxins. It also increases the flexibility and posture of the body, allows you to increase the range of motion, helps to avoid awkward actions and possible injuries.

So, we considered the benefits of walking. Now it’s up to you to start doing health walking regularly. Make it a part of your life. The benefits of walking depend on three elements: the intensity, duration and frequency of training. Enjoy walking. Successes you and health.