For those who are looking to get an introduction to exercise, walking is the perfect way to do so. Even if you consider yourself active currently, walking is an activity that can be easily integrated into your day in order to increase the amount of calories you burn as well as up the amount of various health benefits that walking has to offer. Not only is walking great for newbies, but it is an activity that is easy on your wallets as you only need to make a small investment in walking sneakers or shoes and you don’t need to pay a monthly fee for a gym memberships since you can walk everywhere! Even with the health and economic incentives, some people are still hesitant to begin walking as there are many myths floating around about the exercise. Today, we will dispel some of these myths and hopefully encourage you to become an avid walker, yourself.
Because walking can be both a cardiovascular and a weight bearing form of exercise, there are many health benefits associated with it. The cardio aspect definitely improves the health of your heart and lungs and therefore reduces the risk of certain conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke. In addition, the weight bearing aspect will improve your bone strength, balance and posture. You will also begin to notice increased strength and endurance as you walk regularly as well as an overall reduction in fat around the body. The best part of using walking as a form of exercise is the fact that you can go at your own pace. Once you get started and your body gets used to doing at least 30 minutes each time, you can pick up the pace for a brisk walk or even speed walk for that additional calorie burn.
Myth #1: Walking fast or running burns many more calories than walking at a moderate pace alone.
While you may have personal fitness goals of how fast you would like to be able to walk, speed actually has less of an impact on the amount of calories that one is able to burn than you may expect. For example, a fast walker and a jogger may burn around the same amount of calories in one mile. What makes the most difference in caloric burn is the weight of the person.
Myth #2: I need a specific type of walking sneaker.
The truth is that any average running sneaker should be fine and you can find these at relatively inexpensive prices. Some things that you want to look for are a low heal, light weight, flexibility and proper fit in the walking shoe that you select.
Myth #3: You need to work much harder than walking to see health improvements.
As mentioned before, doing a 30-minute walk on a regular basis will have you noticing changes in your health. You do not necessarily have to be a gym rat or marathon runner for you to see results. Remember, you are looking for health improvements overall, and not just the sweat factor. Give yourselves kudos for getting off the couch and out of the house in the first place.
Myth #4: I need to use hand weights and ankle weights to powerwalk.
The bottom line is that you should do what feels comfortable for you. Especially if you are a beginner, you should not feel that you need these extra tools. Some people even advise against the use of these weights while walking as they can cause too much joint pressure over duration in time. There are many other ways to work your muscles that you may want to try after your walking routine rather than during your walk.
Myth #5: If I begin walking now, it should take me 3 to 6 months to complete a marathon.
While it is important to constantly be changing your fitness goals and aiming high, do not aim too high or above your physical capability. Races are not for everyone, but if this is your goal and you are a beginner, think more like 9 months for marathon training.
Myth #6: I don’t need to work my legs out because I walk.
There are tons of different leg exercises and walking is only one of them. If you are looking to increase muscle strength in particular, you should always use a variety of techniques and not allow walking to be your crutch.
Myth #7: I don’t want to walk because I will get big calves.
On the flip side, some people are worried about gaining too much muscles and the truth is that your muscle composition is heavily reliant on genetics. In order to build serious calf muscle, you would need to work hard to do it, far beyond walking alone.
Walking is a great way to get yourself moving and a perfect way to enter into the fitness world if you do not already belong. If you feel that you have gotten into a gym rut, doing some outdoor walking is also a great idea to break up the monotony. Whatever your reason is, do not let any of these myths deter you from walking. You will be so happy that you kept with it and your body will thank you!