We have long been told that we have to “feel” exercise in order for it to be productive. This myth leads one to believe that pain and soreness after an activity is a sign of strength gained, or progress made. To some, walking appears to be too easy and therefore not productive. However, there are very few people who walk consistently and would consider their exercise to be of no benefit. As a matter of fact, we may argue they feel quite the opposite.
Walking is a consistent motion for a sustained period of time. It requires strength, proper range of motion, and balance (since you’re standing on one leg for a period of time during the gait cycle). Remember the old saying “a body in motion remains in motion”. Walking is an activity that contributes to our body’s ability to do more activity on our feet. It is also a convenient activity that can be done anywhere on Earth, as long as there is a path, of course.
There are several other benefits to walking beyond physical fitness. Benefits to walking include: increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness, reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes, stronger bones and improved balance, increased muscle strength and endurance, reduced body fat.
Are there any negative side effects to walking? As with any activity the answer is relative to the individual. You should always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program. If you have a known muscle, bone, or joint condition, walking could be very beneficial or it could be considered unsafe. Have a conversation with your physician about whether or not walking could be of help for you. Also, if balance is a concern, walking could be less safe and you may benefit from the use of an assistive device like a walking stick, cane or walker. Don’t let vanity get in the way of enjoying a wonderful form of exercise!
If you’re someone who feels physically challenged or uncertain about walking for exercise, this is where a physical therapist can help! Physical therapy can help you restore joint mobility, increase your leg strength, and improve your balance in order to safely begin or continue a walking program. To find out more about how physical therapy can help you kick off a walking program or even maintain your current fitness interests, give us a call at (504) 407-3477.