Walking vs. exercise trends: They both win for women

May 14, 2019 Providence Health Team

You’ve most likely heard Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare. Obviously, the hare would have beaten the tortoise — if the hare hadn’t chosen a nap instead.

The tortoise could only walk. And still, the tortoise won.

With hundreds of workout regimes out there and new techniques always popping up, it’s important for women not to overlook the health benefits of walking. Sure, it’s not the most intense form of exercise, but for the right life stage, daily routine, and body type it can – like the tortoise – earn you first place in a healthy lifestyle. Here’s why.

Walking will always be a reliable form of exercise.

A trend is described as “a general development or change in a situation or in the way people are behaving.” 

Fitness trends that have been reported in recent years by the experts at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) include:

  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT). An exercise program that usually involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise like jump squats or side lunges, followed by a brief rest.
  • Bodyweight training. This program uses the weight of a person’s own body as the training tool. 
  • Core training. Core training helps improve posture and body stability and prevent back pain. Some methods include Pilates and strength builders like sit-ups, back extensions, and leg lifts.

The Office of Women’s Health recommends that women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as a brisk, 30-minute walk five times a week. If you prefer more vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, do it for at least 75 minutes a week — for example, take a spinning class. 

The health benefits of exercise in whatever form are clear. Listen to your body and find what’s right for you — whether you’re a trend-following and adventurous exerciser who prefers HIIT or one who sticks to the basics like walking, power-walking or jogging. Of course, what’s great about walking is that you can use it to supplement any fitness plan, fit it in between shuttling the kids between sports events, or make it your main exercise.

Benefits of walking

Walking pays off in many ways. It helps you meet fitness goals and weight management milestones and improve mental health. It can:

  • Improve heart health
  • Ease depression
  • Boost mood
  • Put less stress on joints than other forms of exercise (helpful for women who are prone to arthritis)
  • Reduce pain
  • Prevent weight gain
  • Help with weight loss
  • Improve circulation and posture

Walking is versatile (and free)

Whatever age or stage you’re in — busy mom, sedentary office worker, or retiree living the good life — there are plenty of walking workout ideas that can fit into your daily routine fairly easily. Here are just a few:

  • High-intensity walking. Try doing three minutes of fast walking, then three minutes of strolling. Pro tip: Do high-intensity walking for at least 20 minutes.
  • Treadmill walking. If you want to avoid Mother Nature’s rain or snow moods, get your walk on indoors. At the gym or at home, there are a wide array of treadmill workouts for every fitness level, age, and size.
  • Nature walking or hiking. Not only will walking outdoors help you stay fit, but it also has many mental health benefits. Just be sure you have on a sturdy pair of shoes as you enjoy an amble in the park or a hilly hike. Bring a friend along for some social time, too.
  • Multi-directional walking. Varying your walk by moving forward, backward, or sideways may look a little strange. But changing direction like that can burn more calories, work different muscles, and even make your mind more alert.

Whether you choose to engage in the latest fitness trends or walk your way to health, the key is to keep moving. You’ll feel like you’re winning the race to wellness.

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