Posted on February 25, 2021 by Kate Halsall
For general health and weight management, walking is by far the most effective (and simplest) thing you can do. You probably know you should be aiming for a step goal (10,000 is generally encouraged), but do you know WHY it’s so important?
First of all, walking outside is generally considered to be one of the best things we can do for good mental health. Spending time outside (especially in green spaces) has been shown to improve symptoms of various mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.
Exposure to natural light can also help people who suffer from seasonal effective disorder (SAD), as well as having a beneficial effect on our sleep by stabilising our sleep-wake cycles.
The mental health benefits are only the tip of the iceberg…
Maintaining a ‘healthy’ weight is probably the best thing you can do to improve your health and longevity. To do this, we need to be aware of the calorie balance equation…i.e how many calories we consume vs. how many we burn.
To lose weight, we need to create a calorie deficit…burn more calories than we consume. Which obviously means we need to take care with how many calories we consume via much we’re eating, but also how many calories we burn.
Accumulating steps over the course of the day will massively affect your caloric output, which will in turn make it easier to lose and manage your weight. In fact, when thinking about weight loss, walking is arguably more effective than those gruelling workouts you put yourself through…
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the numbers…
For someone weighing 90kg, they’d have to work VERY hard to burn 500kcal during a 60 minute gym workout. When we consider time constraints, recovery and motivation to get to the gym, let’s say gym workouts could account for a 2000kcal expenditure over the course of a week (four workouts).
For that same person, walking 10,000 steps would use around 350kcal. 10,000 steps a day for a week…that’s 2450kcal JUST from accumulating 10,000 steps a day.
So whilst building our strength and lean muscle via our workouts is incredibly important, the power of walking shouldn’t be ignored! It’s free to do, almost anybody can do it, and you don’t need to allow for recovery (like a gym session).