Walking is back in the news. The most recent headline is from research demonstrating that walking is as effective as running for cardiovascular health.
Does that mean running and walking provide the same cardio health benefits? Yes and no. The study, appearing in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, said that if you expend the same amount of energy walking that you would running you will get the same benefit. However, since running and walking do not expend energy at the same rate, you would need to walk for one hour in order to get the same benefit you would from running for 35 or 40 minutes.
Another study, which appeared in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, showed that, in terms of walking, Americans have fallen behind compared with other nations.
According to the study, adults in western Australia, Japan and Switzerland averaged 9,695 steps, 7,168 steps and 9,650 steps daily respectively, while adults in America averaged just 5,117 steps each day.
Simply adding 2,000 steps per day, or about 1 mile of walking, which should take about 20 minutes, can make a huge difference. We all surely have 20 extra minutes.
Bottom line: Walking works. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who live in the suburbs—and therefore drive everywhere—weigh 6.3 pounds more than urbanites who are able to walk more.
Here are a few tips to help you walk more:
Safe and precise walking paths are the surest way to sustain a walking plan. Find parks, trails and paths in your area by going to sites like Trimbleoutdoors.com, Trails.com, Recreation.gov or Traillink.com for interesting walking ideas.
Look for a walking path by searching the American Heart Association's Walking Path website. According to the site new routes are added all the time.
Once you've found the trails or paths you'd like to use, go to Google Maps (or other mapping sites such as mapmywalk.com) to create several walking routes.