Walking is an excellent way for people to get out and breathe some fresh air. You just feel better (physically and mentally) if you get outside and go for a stroll.
In addition to that, being active and moving will find itself on the top 10 list of nearly everyone’s “To Do” to improve health. Consistent walking is well-established to increase health, in addition to also burning a few calories while you are out and about.
A recent study was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology that examined the impact of doing increasing amounts of walking on how your body digests and metabolizes the food you consume. In this study, ten healthy men and women (5 of each, approximately 30 years of age) completed four different research conditions.
On separate days, the participants consumed identical meals to ensure calorie, and macronutrient content was not different, and then walked a total of either 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 steps on an indoor track. All step counts were completed each day in three equal bouts of walking across the day.
After they finished walking, the participants had their energy metabolism rate, ratio of burned carbohydrates and fats, and rate of fat oxidation evaluated. On top of that, blood samples were collected 30, 60, 90, 120, and 240 minutes after consuming a high-fat meal (~1,000 kcals, 48% fat) and had triglycerides, fatty acids, lipid levels, insulin, and glucose measured.
All of these things were measured in the blood as they are common indicators to evaluate the extent to which various nutrients are being utilized by the body.
Results from this study indicated that 10,000 steps per day stimulated the greatest decrease in lipids in the blood (called postprandial lipemia), an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease. So for those people who think walking doesn’t do anything or isn’t worth the time, striving to get more steps is an excellent way to manage one’s risk for cardiovascular disease.
Beyond improving heart health, walking can also serve as a modest, yet consistent way to burn some calories with most reports indicating that people who weigh 150 – 180 pounds will burn around 80 – 100 calories per mile. At a speed of 3mph, this would equate to around 240 – 300 calories. Walking at even faster speeds will burn even more calories.
Beyond this, walking can allow you valuable time to think, reflect, and focus on your goals and challenges.
One final thing from a non-scientific perspective that I’ve observed with myself and in talking with other people about walking is that planning a walk can also keep focus on meeting your daily nutrition goals.
For me and I believe many other people, the evening time is one of the most challenging times to keep from having a drink, diving into a salty snack, or soothing dessert. Planning to go for a walk can help give you a focus point to getting other things done before you need to leave, which can help avoid temptations.
Then, of course, there is the actual time you will spend walking that you aren’t deviating from your plan. As the evenings get longer and longer, being able to break up the evening may help some to maintain focus and discipline on their greater goals.
Walking is an often overlooked part of a physical activity program that gets lost in the shadows of workout sessions that can help you to keep making progress while also giving you the chance to burn more calories.
All of these considerations, in addition to recent research that point to the health benefits of getting more and more steps each day, should help provide motivation to get you out and moving. Now lace ‘em up and get out there!