Walking is just as good as walking to prevent cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. This is evident from a study in which researchers compared the health effects of walking and walking in more than 33,000 joggers and 15,000 walkers between 18 and 80 years old.
The participants were followed for more than 6 years. Based on the number of kilometers traveled and the speed at which they walked or walked, the scientists calculated the average energy consumption. This was expressed in so-called METs, where 1 MET corresponds to an energy expenditure of 1 kcal/kg/hour at rest, and 3-6 METs with the energy consumption during moderate exercise. The runners consumed an average of 5.3 METs per hour per day, the walkers 4.7 METs.
Which is healthier: jogging or walking?
Each MET per hour per day led to a decrease in the risk of
- high blood pressure by 4.2%
- high cholesterol by 4.3%
- diabetes by 12.1%
- cardiovascular diseases by 4.5%
In the walkers, one MET per hour per day corresponded to a reduction in the risk of
- high blood pressure by 7.2%
- high cholesterol by 7%
- diabetes by 12.3%
- cardiovascular diseases by 9.3%
The researchers conclude that the health effects of moderate exercise such as walking are similar to those of intense exercise such as jogging.
- Integrate walking into your daily activities as much as possible.
- If you have been inactive for a long time or you have doubts about your physical condition, it is advisable to first talk to your doctor about what is feasible and desirable for you.
- Never start too soon. Give your muscles a chance to warm up quietly.
- Posture: It is important that you walk relaxed and upright. Place the feet straight forward and wrap your feet well. Let your arms relax with the walking pace.
- Choose a walking pace where you do not get out of breath and can easily have a conversation. Step at your own pace.
- A gradual build-up and regular walking improve your fitness. To build up your fitness, first, increase the number of walks and the walking time and only then the walking pace. By walking regularly, your pace automatically increases.
- Be well prepared. Listen to the weather forecast so you can provide the right clothes.
- Bring some basic gear for the road: something to eat and drink, a raincoat or umbrella, sunscreen…
How to make walking extra fun
- Make it a family activity or meet up with neighbors, friends, colleagues… This way you can last longer. However, make sure that you walk at a pace that is feasible for everyone.
- Plan a walking tour to a popular spot or to a city or area you’ve always wanted to explore.
- Take part in organized walks or join a hiking club. Walking together is more fun.
- Find beautiful and varied hiking trails.
- Combine with another hobby, e.g. photography, observing plants and animals.
- Join a walking search.
- Alternate walking on paved roads with walking on unpaved roads. Choose a flat or a more hilly terrain.
- Use a pedometer and keep track of your number of steps every day.