On the face of things, walking is just that thing one has to do to get from Point A to Point B. To get from your car to your office, from your office to the coffee machine and mundane things like that.
However, although you might not be all kitted out in athletic gear when ‘performing’ it much of the time walking is, in actual fact, one of the best things you can do for your overall health, your longevity and your stamina. But wouldn’t you be better off if you picked things up and took a quick drive to the nearest track or trail at some point in the day and went running instead? The answer many not quite be what you think.
Walking Versus Running
Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California published a report detailing the findings of a lengthy study of both walkers and runners that compared the fitness levels and other factors between the two. And while you might expect that the runners came out ahead the fact was that the walkers had a slight edge in the end.
Both running and walking are excellent physical activities of course and both have positive effects on your overall health and even general wellbeing. The California study ran for six years and by the end of it it was demonstrated that versus a non running, non walking control group runners had reduced their high blood pressure risk by 4.2%, their diabetes risk by 12.1% and their chances of developing cardiovascular disease by 4.5%.
Pretty good huh? But the news was actually even better. Walking decreased their diabetes risk by 12.3%, their high blood pressure risk by 7.2% and their cardiovascular disease risk by a whopping 9.3%. And the more they walked? The bigger the benefit got.
It should be noted that, as one might expect, the walkers had to walk farther than the runners ran to reap the greatest benefits. Nevertheless for those who find running a bit much for their joints (especially those with knee or ankle issues) or even a little too hard to fit into their busy schedule the news that walking can be just as beneficial, or even more so, than running is good news indeed.
How Far Should I Walk Daily?
Any walking is better than none at all but the recommended goal set by the national heart associations in several countries is 10,000 steps a day. Which sounds like a lot, especially for the busy desk bound worker who seems to spend half of their life at their desk. But getting up to that daily step count is easier than you think.
Once you get a good pedometer (which are very cheap and even provided for free by many health insurance and medical aid plans) you’ll be surprised how much things like walking the dog, taking the stairs not the lift and parking your car three rows farther back from the office entrance than usual can all help that step count add up.
If you add just one formal walk a day (a stroll at lunchtime, an evening constitutional with the pets/kids/significant other) is not only a great way to make sure you get in those 10,000 steps but a rather mind clearing and enjoyable pursuit as well