With all the fitness apps out there currently tracking how many steps you walk every day; this leads to an interesting question. While walking is a good low-intensity cardio exercise, is it all the exercise you truly need? I guess it depends on your own personal fitness goals.
Most of us start slowly getting back into exercising after a lay off with walking. I was no different. After spending a few years busier with work and Netflix than exercise, I decided to get off the couch and get back into action. I was a walking machine. But I noticed there were a few things missing from my workouts.
Not a Full Body Workout
I was losing weight by walking and watching my diet, but it definitely was gradual. Plus, walking is low-intensity cardio that only really incorporates lower body movement. Sure, you can pump your arms and keep them bent at 90-degree angles as they recommend, but there was no true full-body workout happening through walking. I did end up with some nice and toned legs, but I wanted more.
Walking Is Not a True Strength Training Exercise
As we age, our muscle mass starts to decrease. On average, it shrinks 3 to 8 percent every decade after the age of 30. For many people, it seems to decrease a lot more. Nowadays, people seem to be getting older before their time. It probably has something to do with at least 40 percent of the adult population being clinically obese.
In any case, if you are solely walking, you are not going to retain much of your muscle mass. However, if you include strength training into your exercise routine, you can keep those muscles right where they are. Why is that a good thing? Muscle burns calories even while resting. Furthermore, it keeps your back from showing poor posture, keeps shoulders from sagging, and generally just enables you to lead a higher quality of life.
But, on the Other Hand, Walking Is…
Make no mistake, I am not downplaying what a perfect exercise walking is for most people. After all, it is a way to lose weight without needing much more than a pair of shoes. There is very little chance of getting injured from walking as it is low intensity. Walking also improves a person’s mood and can help with digestion (I sometimes still go for a walk after a meal). And it is a great way to catch up with a friend either on the phone or walking with them in person and burn calories at the same time.
Look at the Goals You Want to Accomplish
It all comes down to what your goals are on whether or not walking is going to be all the exercise you need. If you are interested in losing a few pounds and keeping yourself trim, walking and a good diet can do that. If you are wanting more to add muscle and get a full-body workout, by all means, keep doing the walking, but add some strength training to it. Just like with many things in life, it comes down to goals!