The main benefit of walking

Walking is the one thing that we should all do more of. We can discuss optimal training programs for elite athletes, weight loss for overweight individuals or conditioning for people doing endurance sport. But the one thing that should be common denominator across all is more focus on walking.

Everybody can and should walk more.

Why – you ask?

There are numerous benefits to walking and if you look at just about any health-focused homepage or magazine you will find at least one article highlighting the benefits of walking.

They will focus on anything from psychological benefits, clearing of thoughts, ability to do it together with others, ability to listen to podcasts, lowering of stress etc. etc. etc.

But to me that is not the main benefit of walking. They are all great and should as much as possible help get you out the door, parking further away from your destination or picking up coffee from the coffee machine that is furthest away in the office.

Walking is brilliant because it is low-impact.

When dealing with anything from top-level athletes to people with severe obesity the main point of worry is stressors vs. recovery. Top level athletes will be doing a lot of sports-specific training and the most important thing is them being recuperated and ready for their next session. So if they for some reason needs to lose a little extra weight, then prescribed sessions of walking would be the safest way of adding extra exercise without the risk of compromising recovery for their sports-specific training.

The exact same reasoning can actually be used with severely obese individuals their body can be under a lot of stress from carrying the excess weight of their body. Highly obese individuals should not be running for exercise. It will put a lot of stress on their body and the risk of injury would be too high. The main source of weight loss should come from the kitchen – not from training.

Another sometimes overlooked category of individuals that runs the risk of tipping the scales of too much stress if they are prescribed too much exercise is high stress individuals which I have also previously written about here: Weight loss for high stress individuals

So the main benefit from walking actually comes from what others might criticize it for; namely not being very hard to do.

Walking is brilliant exactly because it is low impact. Anyone can do it. And anyone can do more of it. So put on whatever shoes you have or go barefoot for that matter. It does not matter as long as you put one foot in front of the other and moves.

It does not have to be more difficult than that.

Happy walking!

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