WALKING FOR FITNESS
Walking is the most democratic of activities and is great for building fitness. It’s natural, it’s easy, it’s safe and just about anyone can do it. Easier than jogging, swimming and other aerobic exercises, mankind’s simplest way of getting around is quickly becoming the easiest and most effective way for most people to exercise, lose weight and get fit. Almost a ‘forgotten art’, walking is fast becoming the exercise of choice for many people – and just about anyone can do it, young and old.
According to the World Health Organisation: ‘A walker loses weight, lowers cholesterol, reduces conditions associated with hypertension, slows aging and the decline of aerobic capacity, increases strength, flexibility and balance, strengthens bones and increases stamina‘.
The founding father of the medical profession, Hippocrates, said that walking is the best medicine. Now, 25OO years later, fitness walking is a ‘best exercise’ recommended in more than 4O medical studies by exercise physiologists, biomechanical experts, cardiologists, chest experts, obesity experts and stress experts.
Walking is a natural, healthy expression of the human body. Your body is built for walking – it’s the ultimate exercise machine. Walking helps you restore rhythm and balance to your life and it makes you fit, healthy and whole. A low-intensity, low-impact exercise, fitness walking will give you more energy and vitality than you’ve ever had. It’s easy and it works. No matter at what level of fitness you begin, walking wins every time.
So at what point does ambling, strolling or sauntering become fitness walking? When you walk at a brisk enough pace to give you aerobic benefits, which for most people is a pace of around 3.5 to 4 mph.
To most people walking is simply a means of getting from point A to point B, but walking can be much more than this routine pedestrian activity. It can be the keystone in an exercise programme which can be built up gradually week by week, without getting injured and without getting bored and fatigued. Without even looking like an exercise, walking produces the same physical fitness, health and weight control benefits as high-intensity, high-impact exercises but without the dangers and hazards. Compared with running (a high-intensity, high-impact exercise), walking produces much less stress on the knee joints – your feet strike the ground with only 1-1.5 times body weight when walking compared with 3-4 times when running. Whereas running mainly builds muscles at the front of the thighs and the back of the calves, walking builds the muscles of the entire leg. From a biomechanical point of view, walking is the easiest and safest aerobic exercise.
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Last Modified on October 5, 2010