Walking Your Way to a Better Workout

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Don’t worry if you can’t get to the gym these days. We have some tips for getting some exercise without the fancy equipment.

With coronavirus shutting down gyms, getting daily exercise has become a challenge. Most gym members do not have cardio exercise equipment at home, relying on their gym for all their cardio needs. This leaves millions of exercise seekers to take to the streets to walk or jog.

Cardio machines are pretty good at getting your heart rate up in short order and maintaining the rate for the desired time. The action of these machines, particularly a bike or elliptical machine, is very smooth with little pounding or stress on your joints. Working out indoors also leads people to perspire more, giving us the feeling of accomplishment and release. These are important attributes of gym cardio workouts that are hard to recreate at home without the proper equipment.

Walking and jogging outside changes the dynamic of exercise as compared to cardio machines. Jogging can trigger injuries and pain as the repetitive pounding makes joints and old injuries flare up quickly. On the other hand, walking is smoother, but our heart rate simply doesn’t feel elevated enough to achieve the satisfaction of a heart pounding cardio machine session. You can also forget perspiration as a walk just won’t get most gym goers to break a sweat. Nonetheless, walking is the safe option for most of us, and understanding the benefits will give some peace of mind to those missing the all-out gym sweat session.

Weight Bearing vs. Non-Weight Bearing
There is a silver lining for those choosing to walk. That’s because most cardio machines are not weight bearing and thus deprive us of the benefit in experiencing the entire force or resistance of our body weight.

Take stationary bikes for example. Walking is a weight bearing exercise, whereas a stationary bike is not. The bicycle is doing some of the work for you when you put the weight of your body on the seat. We have all seen people taking advantage of this while looking at their phones and leisurely using a stationary bike at the gym.

In this case, a weight bearing exercise such as walking can burn an equal amount or even more calories per session than non-weight bearing exercises as you are forced to carry your weight regardless of how slow or distracted you become during your workout.

How many Calories am I burning?
According to the Calorie Control Council’s Get Moving! Calculator, a 155-pound person who walks at a leisurely pace will burn an estimated 141 calories in 30 minutes. By comparison, stationary biking will burn an estimated 176 calories in the same amount of time. In which case, you’re missing out on only 35 burned calories, which can be made up by adding only 8 minutes of walking time. Accordingly, 38 minutes of leisurely walking is estimated to burn the same number of calories as a 30 minutes on a stationary bike.

Minimal Downside
A potential downside of walking as opposed to non-weight bearing cardio machines is the impact on your knees, hips, and joints. It may be necessary to walk every other day and purchase high quality walking footwear to absorb impact. If walking starts to cause joint pain, it should be stopped until a full recovery is made or a doctor gives the go-ahead to start walking again

Getting More out of Walking
Leisurely walking in a hilly area will of course burn more calories than on flat terrain, but if more challenging terrain isn’t available, another option to increase heart rate and calorie burn is walking faster. Increasing your speed from a leisurely walk to fast walk or jog at 5mph for 30 minutes will increase calories burned for a 155-pound person from 141 to 247.

If you’re in good physical health, you can ramp up your walking routine by incorporating HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) at various intervals. Dropping for pushups, crunches, and planks will bring your routine to another level and perhaps help us miss the gym a little less.

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