Let’s Talk About Walking
I’ll admit, I used to shun walking. There I said it!
I always thought it was something for people who couldn’t carry out more vigorous activity or who have been physically inactive for years and needed to start somewhere.
The stereotypical doctors prescription of “you need to walk 30 minutes a day” did not help this perception either!
How wrong I was though
Research coming out of Dr. Stuart McGill’s lab in Waterloo has continued to prove that the health benefits of walking are incredible, both for the high-level athlete and the sedentary middle-aged desk jockey.
Not only is this exercise one of the most fundamental movement patterns known to man, it can also spark recovery and be a protective mechanism for future injuries to the spine, hips, and other regions of the body. It all has to do with the idea of the “active muscle pump,” which is essentially the muscles of the lower extremities contracting over and over in an antagonist and agonist nature. This puts pressure on the vasculature and aids in lymphatic drainage, which is a powerful recovery mechanism.
Over and above, I have found that re-educating gait (physiotherapy jargon for ‘walking’) is a cornerstone to helping people recover from a whole range of painful conditions!
Did you know?
- Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed walking to his patients…..2600 years ago!
- 40% of middle-aged people do not manage a ten minute walk, ONCE A MONTH!
- 80% of GP’s in the United Kingdom do not feel confident prescribing exercise to their patients
- Walking helps to boost both cognitive and physical performance. It also helps us to recover from intense exercise
How walking can impact your health
Walking has lots of research based health benefits. Walking for 30 minutes a day, at a light to moderate pace, will help you reduce:
- Dementia risk by 50%
- Alzheimers risk by 60%
- Stroke occurrence by 60%
- A wide range of cancers by 50%
The good news is that it is also a great low-risk method (low likelihood of injury) method to recover from years of physical inactivity.
Walking and fat loss
Whilst a leisurely 10-minute walk once a week is unlikely to burn off too much fat, walking 4-6 hours a week at a moderate incline and pace will do wonders with regards to burning fat and increasing work capacity.
One of the biggest benefits, especially for those looking to stay lean and keep muscular (i.e practically everyone), is that walking burns minimal amounts of muscle!
The reason for this being that higher intensity exercise carried out at a calorie deficit will result in the body releasing cortisol to help convert amino acids into glucose to be used as fuel. The source of those amino acids? Hard-earned muscle tissue!
Walking and recovery
Looking to get rid of that post-exercise soreness, recover in time for your next work-out or feel better prior to an event or match? Walking is the solution.
“Walking is the best thing you can do to spark recovery and protect you from future injuries” Dr. John Rusin
Walking enhances bodily tissue and nervous system regeneration, floods the body with endorphins and helps us make decisions / spark new ideas. Ever had that lightbulb moment half way through a walk? It seems to be more than just coincidence!
Over and above, walking adds very minimal amounts of ‘training stress’ and will therefore not contribute to over-training. Combining more intense cardio (HIIT sessions, sprinting etc) with several days of weight-lifting could be problematic and add on fatigue.
Tips and Tricks:
- Walk at a brisk pace, occasionally include a slight incline
- If walking on a treadmill, do not hold on!
- The best times to walk for fat-burn is before breakfast or after a weight-lifting work-out (glycogen stores in the body already being depleted)
- Wear good shoes
So if you’re highly physically active or at the very beginning of your fitness journey; fit as fiddle or recovering from injury……get walking today and reap the rewards!