Despite walking being the most recommended form of activity for fitness, there are tons of myths around walking that are commonly believed but aren’t true. Debunking these myths can give more motivation to walk every day and can keep you focused on hitting your long term step goals.
Myth 1: You must reach 10,000 steps a day to see benefits.
Walking 10,000 steps is a little less than five miles, depending on your stride length. Reaching 10,000 steps is a great long-term goal, but it’s not necessarily a realistic expectation for a beginning walker. The truth is any amount of walking is better than none, and you can get amazing health benefits at much lower step goals. Even light activity is correlated with a lower risk of death. For the best health benefits, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (like brisk walking) a week, which is easily broken into smaller time chunks. That doesn’t necessarily equate to 10,000 steps per day, but that’s okay.
A study of over 16,000 older women found that increasing your steps from 2,700 daily to 4,400 daily cut their risk of death by more than 40%. Set the right step goal for you and be as active as you can.
Myth 2: Walking won’t help you lose weight.
Walking burns calories, which helps you lose weight. In fact, walking can burn 200 to 300 calories per hour, depending on your weight and walking speed. Additionally, walking builds muscle mass which improves your metabolism.
Walking can be a core component of any weight loss or weight maintenance program. That doesn’t mean that walking is all you need to lose weight – a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating plan are very important too. Being active also helps you in other ways so even if weight loss isn’t your goal, your body will still thank you for walking more.
Myth 3: You must complete a pre-set walking workout.
Many people think you must walk a full, dedicated 30-minute or 60-minute walk to see results and if that’s not possible, then they might as well not walk. But, those little walks really do add up! Three 10-minute sessions are as effective as walking for 30 minutes. Taking a five-minute walk every hour can help to undo an hour of sitting. That’s especially important for office workers who spend most of their day sitting.
Myth 4: Walking isn’t as effective as jogging.
Walking can be better than jogging, especially for those who can’t tolerate impact. Walking may result in fewer injuries, which means you can do it every day. Making walking a daily habit makes it more likely you’ll participate for longer periods of time. Most importantly, walking at a speed of 4.5 mph can burn the same amount of calories as jogging at the same speed, which means both exercises provide equal benefits.
Walking is incredibly versatile. You can make your walks more intense by using incline walking, stairs or using intervals to burn more calories. Jogging is great, too. Both a short jog or a long walk can be great for fitness.
Myth 5: You need to do intervals to see results.
Intervals can help you burn calories faster but they aren’t required for weight loss or health benefits. Walking at a sustained pace effectively burns calories, and walkers who don’t like intervals are more likely to skip regular workouts when pressured to do them.
The most important thing you can do is get out and walk at whatever pace works for you. Even leisurely walking can improve your mood, help you get in touch with nature, and help you get fit while getting active.
Myth 6: Walking benefits only last while you’re walking.
After all types of exercise, your body continues to burn calories as you cool down and recover from activity. This means you’re still burning calories at an elevated rate after you’ve finished walking. To keep your metabolism high after walks, try some basic bodyweight strength exercises during breaks in your walk, or add intervals during your walk.
Improved mood and creativity can last well after you finish walking. If you’re feeling stressed or need inspiration, try a 10 to 15 minute walk. You may find you’re inspired for an hour or longer.
Myth 7: Walking is bad for your joints.
People with arthritis and joint damage are often advised to rest and reduce impact on their joints. While rest is important to allow injuries to heal, exercise helps to improve flexibility and strength, both of which reduce pain. Movement helps to lubricate and exercise your joints. The less you move, the harder it can be to get started. Improper form and unsupportive shoes are the biggest culprits when joint pain is experienced from walking.