Most people want to get healthier – it’s a common New Year’s resolution. You don’t have to wait until January 1st to start walking, because it’s one of the best exercises you can do. Almost everyone will see health benefits from walking more, but is walking all you need for health and fitness? To find out, you’ll need to make sure to clearly define your health and fitness goals.
Are you walking to lose weight? Do you want to become an athlete? Do you just enjoy getting outdoors? Ask yourself these questions to find out if walking is enough to meet your personal goals.
Is Walking Enough if Getting Healthier is Your Goal?
The answer is yes. The American Heart Association recommends walking as a great and simple way to keep your heart healthy. It can fit into your schedule whether that be first thing in the morning, during your lunch, or even at night when the temperatures are cooler. It can be done indoors or outdoors, with friends or alone. The very versatility of walking makes it the perfect exercise for anyone looking to get healthy.
For those suffering from depression, walking is also an excellent mood booster. It lowers stress levels, so you feel better after your walk. Add in a little Vitamin D from the sunshine, and you’ll be feeling better in no time!
Is walking enough if you want to lose weight?
The not so simple answer is yes and no. You can absolutely lose weight walking, but if you aren’t eating the right foods, it’s all too easy to consume more calories than you burned. If you’re eating far too many calories, walking is still better than not walking as it will burn calories to offset some of the food you’re taking in. It’s very difficult to overcome a bad diet through walking alone, however. Walking faster or getting in more steps will help you meet your goal of losing weight, but if you aren’t able to get in all your steps every day or you’re not seeing the progress you’d like, you may need to do more. Remember, you may be burning 300 calories in an hour by walking, but a small cheeseburger at a fast-food restaurant is probably more than 300 calories.
Eating healthy foods works in conjunction with walking and is an important part of losing weight that should not be overlooked. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends replacing full-fat foods with items that are low fat or fat-free. Depending on your health needs and personal preferences, there are a large variety of diets that will work for you. Talking to your family doctor will help you narrow down the best diet for you.
Adding in strength training can help you meet your goal by toning your muscles, increasing your metabolism and burning calories as well. If the thought of gym membership fees, having to lift heavy weights, or trying to find even more time to hit the gym, don’t panic. Strength training doesn’t necessarily have to use equipment. You can also try Pacer’s bodyweight workouts at home, or you can find a variety of other workouts that you can do in your own home using only your own body weight. Start out with the basics, and if you find you like strength training and want to increase your workout the gym is always an option.
Is walking enough if you want to get super fit?
Probably not. If becoming an athlete is your goal, then you need to focus on exercises that get your heart rate up even more. Workouts such as HIIT, martial arts, running, strength training, yoga, or any other exercise routine that gets you breathing harder and your heart pumping will help you become super fit. This isn’t a goal for everyone, and you can get pretty fit through walking or jogging alone.
Even if you want to get super fit, it doesn’t mean that you should stop walking. After a hard workout, you’re likely to be sore for the next day or two. Walking is a great, low impact exercise that you can do so you keep moving. It can also help work out some of the soreness you may feel in your muscles. Just be careful not to overdo it if you’re really sore. You don’t want to cause yourself to become burned out and stop exercising completely.
Other Reasons to Walk
Maybe you’re in decent shape and eat well. Work may be more than enough to get your steps in, but you’re wondering if there are other reasons you should walk when outside of work.
Meet new people
Walking is a great way to meet new people or just spend time with friends you never have time to see. You can skip the coffee shop and meet up with your friends at your local park.
Spend time outside
It’s also a great way to get out and smell the flowers. Or if you’re allergic to pollen like many people are, you can admire the scenery from the inside of a mall where the windows protect you from allergies.
Walking outdoors is also a great way to become inspired if you are an artist. Even if you aren’t interested in trees, flowers, or grass, you may find inspiration from children laughing, dogs chasing butterflies, or a couple who just enjoys each others’ company.
Think and relax
If you just a need a little alone time to think, walking may be the perfect outlet for you. The exercise will help boost your spirits while you relax. You may not solve the world’s problems, but as long as you meet some of your own personal goals, you’ve accomplished a lot.
If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.