Each week there is a new fitness craze. If it is not a thirty-minute burpee drill it is skipping rope, sprinting intervals, or kettle bell exercises. This means that people often forget about some of the staple exercises that have been around for a long time that are proven to work very well. Swimming and walking, for example, are two exercises that don’t get spoken about enough today. Walking, in particular, has a bad reputation with many people treating it like it is not exercise at all. The reality is that walking is excellent for you.
When items like the Fitbit hit the market everyone became obsessed with counting their steps. Whether people were aiming for 8,000 or 15,000 steps a day they were chasing them down with serious venom. These smart devices were getting people off their couches and exercising. Then the backlash started. People started to criticize step counters for patting lazy people on the back. They started to demonize walking as too easy and not real exercise. Things like the FitBit became a fad and people stopped buying them.
However, the benefits of walking can not be argued with. Numerous studies have shown that walking can help those who suffer from obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. One study has shown that those who walk between 4,000 and 8,000 steps a day can reduce their risk of of death from cancer or heart disease two thirds. If you can reach 12,000 steps it can decrease by 90%. A different study showed an over 40% lower risk of diabetes and over 30% lower risk of diabetes for those who walk a high number of steps every day.
To think that some people don’t consider walking a good form of exercise is a very poor attitude. While some people enjoy a one-hour intense CrossFit class, others are simply unable to do this. If those people are able to work up the energy to go for a walk every day they should be commended. People who look down on others and think they are too good for walking should be ashamed of themselves as they may stop people who are just starting to get fit from giving it their all.
For some reason, 10,000 steps have become the common goal for steps a day. This dates back all the way to 1964 when Tokyo hosted the Olympics. A fitness craze was taking off in the country and one man decided to profit from it by releasing a pedometer. He called it the Manpo-Kei which means 10,000 steps meter. It was a challenge for people to get outside and get active and people started to do it. Since then the enthusiasm has had lows and high, most recently when smartwatches became popular.
The reality is that the more steps you walk the better but that the quality of those steps matters too. If you are simply walking the ten steps from your desk to the fridge 1,000 times a day, it is not doing much good. However if you can add in a hill walk, or the stairs, or just managing to walk outside for ten minutes, it will be even better for you. Any amount of walking is good and more is better.
Exercise is also hugely important in fighting colds and flu. By putting your body under stress through exercise it learns how to deal with stress from viruses and can solve them faster. It is good to set a step goal every day but base your goal on how much you used to walk and include some aspect of quality in your goal as well. With these two factors, you will start to see huge increases in your mental and physical health.