Is Walking Good Cardio Exercise? Yes!

Is walking real exercise? Yes, walking is real cardio! Many people think of walking as a beginner’s exercise, and it is great for beginners. But walking is the most popular exercise in the US, and likely worldwide as well. We’ll show you that not only is walking real exercise, but you can meet most or all of your fitness requirements with it.

Senior couple walking on treadmills

There’s an assumption that you’ll need to eventually need to add running, yoga, or routine trips to the gym to really meet your intended health and fitness goals. It’s time to forget all the myths surrounding exercise and learn what walking can really do for your health.

Walking can give you the same benefits as almost any other exercise routine. It’s a good form of cardio, helping to improve conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. It helps you build muscle groups and gain strength. Walking can even help you improve your flexibility and range of motion. While a walking routine may not be the fastest way to look like a bodybuilder or engage in rapid weight loss (which is unhealthy anyway), walking may be the best long-term solution to permanent weight control and better overall health.

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Is Walking Really Cardio?

Yes! Cardiovascular exercise is defined as an activity that raises your heart rate to the level where you’ll burn fat and calories. The great thing about cardio (and probably the best-kept secret) is there is no “best” cardio exercise. Any activity that you enjoy, you are capable of continuing and raises your heart rate can become the core of your regular cardio routine.

Man checking fitness watch after long jog

Walking is really cardio when you put in the effort required to raise your heart rate. Slowly browsing the aisles of your favorite shopping center is exercise, but it doesn’t really reach the level of a great cardiovascular workout. In fact, if you’re pushing a shopping cart, you’re probably not walking fast enough to get the heart rate boost required for true cardio. (If you are, you might be scaring the other customers!)

To raise your heart rate into the cardio zone, you’ll want to use brisk walking. If you’re walking on a level surface, you need to be moving around 3 miles per hour. At that rate, you’ll complete a mile in 20 minutes. Listen to your body to learn if you’re at the right cardio level for you. Your breathing and heart rate will increase. You will begin to sweat, and while you shouldn’t be in pain, you will likely notice a strain on your muscles. A good way to tell that you are achieving aerobic exercise is if you can talk in short sentences, but can’t sing a song.

Reaching the Recommended Fitness Levels

The Department of Health and Human Services and CDC recommend adults achieve 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. Additionally, strength training which works major muscle groups is recommended two days a week. A walking routine that includes brisk walking for 30 minutes a day can easily fulfill your cardio recommendations. If you can’t find the time to get a full 30-minute workout in at one time, breaking up your day with 10-minute walks can still meet your cardio goals and help slash your risks of heart disease and stroke.

Man tired after walking for fitness

Best of all, walking is great for people of all ages and fitness levels! Not everyone wants to or is able to lift weights, go for a long run or take a yoga class. Those are great exercises, but they’re not for everyone. Almost anyone can take a nice, long walk though!

Walking is also a great base for any cardio routine. Even if you do decide to get more intense, getting more steps is a great way to help condition your body on days where you can’t get to the gym, or times of the day where you only have a short time to exercise. If you’re able to add biking, jogging, or other sports to your walking routine that’s great as well!

Advantages of Walking for Cardio

Walking isn’t exactly glamorized in the world of cardiovascular exercise. However, it has many benefits over other types of fitness routines. These advantages keep avid walkers coming back every day, improving their routines, and living a healthier life. Walking isn’t a fad that will be replaced by something “better” in six months. It’s a realistic way to meet your recommended fitness goals and achieve a long-term, healthier lifestyle.

Happy walkers feeling great

These benefits make walking a favorite form of cardio for many people.

  • No supplies necessary – When you start a walking routine, all you really need is a good pair of shoes.
  • Gentle on joints and injuries – A form of exercise that doesn’t leave you in pain is a routine you can complete day after day.
  • Versatility – Walking can be done anywhere, so a change of pace, location, or intensity level can be easily accomplished to make your workout exciting again.
  • Lower risk of a plateau – It’s common for runners or those who go to the gym to repeat the exact workout every day, eventually leading to a plateau in results. The ability to change up a walking routine always leaves options for increased intensity.
  • Weather can be overcome – A walking routine can be done inside or out. If you hate the idea of a treadmill, consider a community gym with a track, or a local mall (if you can resist browsing the stores).
  • You can take your dog – Your pooch needs exercise too! If you’re a multi-tasker, this could be a great way to get two things done at once.
  • Walking improves posture – Walking the right way can improve your overall posture, improving your strength and helping to eliminate aches and pains.

It’s worth noting that because walking is so easy and “user-friendly,” there isn’t a real incentive for purveyors of “fad” exercise routines to necessarily recommend walking. If you look at the real experts, like national health organizations and government entities, you’ll find great support for walking as exercise.

Adding Intensity for Bigger Cardio Benefits

Walking is great because there are many ways to increase your intensity that you can build right into your walk! If you’ve been walking for a while and are ready to take your cardio to the next level, there are many ways to get there.

woman walking stairs - uphill walking concept

Whether you’ve reached a plateau, are feeling a little bored, or just want to challenge yourself, you can add these ideas to your walking routine for a cardiovascular boost.

Walking is often underrated in its ability to provide all of the fitness benefits you need. While it’s important to consider any form of exercise (especially if you enjoy it), a regular routine is only useful if you have the ability to keep it up. If an exercise routine is too strenuous, causes you significant pain, or you generally dread it; you’re much more likely to quit. Walking is a great form of cardio because so many people have the ability to keep at it and improve their routine as necessary.

Woman happy to hit step goal

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that you can’t also add other great forms of exercise to your walking routine. You can still practice yoga, lift weights, or simply jog some of the time if you want to. Those are all great forms of exercise! Walking is real, good cardio that can form the basis of a long-lasting fitness routine that gets you results.

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