There are a lot of workouts that have a barrier to entry. Take spinning, for instance. To do it safely, a new rider needs help setting up the bike. Boxing requires extra gear, like gloves and hand wraps.
Unlike other types of exercise, walking is a simple bodyweight workout that only requires the motivation to get moving and a good pair of shoes. You can do it any time, anywhere and it’s a great low-impact way to improve cardio endurance. Plus, it can get you to spend more time in nature, where you’ll lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and heart rate, according to one study.
However, walking often gets flack for not being “good enough.” Here, five reasons why that’s a myth:
IT GETS YOU MOVING
In today’s “sitting is the new smoking” society, any movement is better than none. British researchers found sitting or simply standing for more than 30 minutes at a clip can negatively impact your health. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-level exercise each week, and you can divide that to suit your lifestyle. While walking around the mall certainly counts, you should aim to push yourself to keep between a 15–17-minute mile pace.
IT REDUCES MORTALITY RATE
A study surveying more than 50,000 walkers in the United Kingdom found regularly walking at an average, brisk or fast pace was associated with a 20% reduction in all-cause mortality (they also found a 24% reduction in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease).
IT’S LESS LIKELY TO CAUSE INJURY
Compared to running, walking has a much lower injury rate. A systematic review showed a one-year injury rate of 27% in novice runners, 32% in long-distance runners and 52% in marathon runners.
IT HAS SIMILAR BENEFITS TO RUNNING
Moderate-intensity walking shows a similarly visible reduction in risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, when compared to vigorous-intensity running, according to research from “Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.”
IT CAN HELP YOU THINK CREATIVELY
Whether you’re a fan of the treadmill or prefer to stroll outdoors, walking can help you come up with your next big idea. Stanford researchers found creative thinking improves while a person is walking, as well as shortly thereafter.