Like diets, exercise trends come and go. From Zumba classes to CrossFit, it seems like there are endless types workouts tailored for different levels of physical ability. But are these workouts really helping you get healthy or are they just all hype? And which kind is the best for overall health?
When it comes to the best form of exercise, experts say good old-fashion walking is the best.
“Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human,”says Katy Bowman, a biomechanist based in Ventura, California. “It’s a lot easier to get movement than it is to get exercise.”
While other forms of exercise build endurance and burn fat, these health benefits mean nothing if people are sedentary before and after a workout.
“Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day,” Bowman says. “You can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise.”
Instead, Bowman suggests in her book, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement, that walking is type of movement the body needs and therefore, is the best form of exercise for cardiovascular heath and overall wellness.
A study last year by the University of Texas School of Public Health found that many people who view themselves as “active” fall into the actively sedentary category in reality. Researchers surveyed 218 marathoners and half marathoners to collect data about their training and sitting times. Researches found a median training time of 6.5 hours each week, compared to the eight to 10.75 hours of total sitting time.
There is a belief that people should push themselves to the point of exhaustion during a workout to reap healthy benefits, but all that is needed is about 7,500 steps each day. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, people should get about 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
A small study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise found that for every hour that is spent sitting, five-minutes of walking is enough to reverse harmful effects caused to arteries in the legs.
However, walking does have it downsides. Running is preferred for bone health and weight lighting is preferred for strength training. Still, walking increases circulation and supplies more blood and oxygen to the muscles, organs and even the brain. Walking regularly has been linked to improved memory and increased growth of new neurons. It also wards off the weakening of brain tissue associated with aging.
What is the difference between taking a hike and taking a walk?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines hiking as a long walk for pleasure but when does a walk become a hike? Is it walking on a path in the woods or wearing special shoes or carrying a backpack? Is it spending nights out in the deep wilderness with only a thin piece of nylon separating you from the elements? Not necessarily. How can we define hiking and walking so that we know when we’re doing it?
So let’s consider defining hiking by geographic area. If a hike is a walk in the woods, what is a walk in the desert or the plains? Some intrepid souls have pushed the boundaries of the traditional definition with urban hiking. Let go of the definition as walking in the woods, and a new possibilities open up.
So we still haven’t really defined the difference between taking a hike and taking a walk. Ask a hiker what he or she thinks the definition is and you’ll get a different answer. One will tell you that hiking through the dense forests is the true definition while another will say it’s the rugged paths . One thing that all hikers will have in common is that look of yearning and peace when they talk about their hikes. They’ll tell you about testing their bodies’ limits and the spiritual awakenings that they’ve had. They’ll groan fondly about bug-filled, rain-soaked hikes. They’ll smile when they tell you about the people that they’ve met and the bonds they’ve strengthened with friends and family.
So what is the meaning of taking a walk? According to the American Volksport Association, walks can be taken nearly anywhere but most are in towns, along roads or on short trails. A walk doesn’t involve camping overnight or much equipment beyond comfortable shoes and a water bottle. But the organization will tell you that a walk can be anything from a short stroll down the street to 10Ks on a trail. A walk can be strenuous and include challenging terrain.
So it seems that hiking and walking often are the same thing, and the best outdoors people have difficulty in drawing the line of when a walk becomes a hike. John Muir, the famous naturalist and hiker, didn’t worry about the difference when he said, “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out until sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
Researched By : Kátia C. Rowlands – Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer – 082 513 4256•