If you’re a walker I’ve waited on at the store, you’ve probably heard me on my soapbox touting the virtues of walking. There seems to be a resurgence in the popularity of walking recently, and I’ve gotten into some very interesting discussions with my customers (particularly the runners) these past few weeks about the comparative benefits of walking.
It often takes the form of a gentle suggestion to a customer’s statement of “I only walk.”, to which I’ll always reply, “I want you to take the word ‘only’ out of that sentence – walking is one of the best things you can do for yourself.” I’ll usually go on about how critical weight bearing exercise is to post-menopausal women and older men – how necessary it is to maintain necessary appropriate muscle and bone mass, which deteriorates with age.
Most of us are familiar with the oft-touted advice to walk 10,000 steps daily. I was curious about the genesis of this philosophy, as it seems it’s been around forever. Interestingly, this came about in Japan back in the 1960’s! http://www.livescience.com/43956-walking-10000-steps-healthy.html.
Originally, counting steps was facilitated by the old-fashioned mechanical pedometer, but there’s now a new generation of electronic pedometers, driven by a piezoelectric sensor, as in the Nike+ device http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piezoelectricity, or a 3-axis accelerometer, as in the Garmin VivoFit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerometer. The question remains, however, as to just how beneficial walking 10,000 steps daily truly is – and, in the mind of many customers, how the benefits of walking compare with those of running.
I’ve always maintained that the benefits of walking are nearly as good as those derived from running. My thoughts were affirmed in an article published on the “About Health” website which posits that the difference between the calories burned running a set distance or walking that same distance is very small. Most interesting, according to the article, at higher walking speeds, there is no difference. http://walking.about.com/od/calorie1/a/calorieswalkrun.htm
As you might imagine, there are benefits to walking and running beyond pure caloric expenditure. If nothing else, both get one outside in the fresh air and sunshine – especially during these delicious Fall days.
I wanted a more scientific insight though, and a little research uncovered a fascinating US News and World Report article online that explains that the relative health benefits from walking are actually greater than those from running! The caveat: “The runners and walkers had to expend the same energy to get the same benefits. That means you’d have to walk longer than you’d have to run for the same effect.” http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2014/03/31/is-walking-just-as-good-as-running.
Another excellent article on the benefits of walking can be found on “active.com” at http://www.active.com/fitness/Articles/Why-Walking-Is-One-of-the-Best-Forms-of-Exercises.htm.
If the above isn’t enough motivation to get you out and walking, I urge you to read another “active.com” article on “Sitting Disease” that Helen passed on to me.
http://www.active.com/fitness/Articles/Infographic-Sitting-Disease-By-the-Numbers.htm?cmp=312&memberid=111578046&lyrisid=44130113. The statistics presented in the article are sobering: “20% of deaths of people 35 or older could be attributed to lack of physical activity.”, and “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smokers.” On the more positive side, “2 hours sitting is as harmful as 20 minutes of exercise is beneficial.” Pretty amazing, and well worth reading.
But back to the 10,000 steps. Many people think they couldn’t walk 10,000 steps in a week, let alone a day. Curious, one day I put on a pedometer during a five hour shift at the store. I turned it on when I got out of the car at the beginning of my shift, and looked at it at the end of the shift. The total – 16,000 steps! My wife, who has a desk job, routinely walks 8-10,000 steps daily. It’s not that difficult. Park your car in the furthest parking slot from your destination. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to work or the store, if possible. There are innumerable other options.
It’s your heart, your health, your life – and your responsibility.
I’m still waiting for fireplace weather. Have a great October.