Is walking really good for one’s health?

As many of my friends approach middle age, I noticed quite a few of them have taken up walking as a hobby. Occasionally they’ll even send some media on the health benefits of walking. I assume that there are some psychological benefits, and perhaps even a psychosomatic aspect, but is there any real evidence of better health through more walking?

I think for the purposes of this discussion, we can exclude folks that are unable to walk due to medical reasons as well as speed walkers who do it competitively or to an extreme. But for people between, say, the 20th to 80th percentiles, is there a real difference?

I’ve always enjoyed walking. I prefer being on a nature trail. But even a walk around the block lifts my mood.

I’m just one person. But I can tell it makes me feel better.

If you’re actually walking briskly, and a fair amount (at least 30 minutes a day, most days), then, yes, there can be considerable physical benefits, particularly around cardiovascular health, reduced risk from hypertension and diabetes, improved muscle tone, improved balance, etc.

IANAD, but I imagine that the benefits would be greater for those people who are otherwise sedentary, as compared to those who are already in good shape, and are getting other forms of exercise as well.

What are you comparing it to? Walking vs more rigorous exercise, or walking vs sitting on the couch watching TV?

Because walking vs sitting on couch is definitely better for you. Even if walking isn’t that rigorous, it beats being completely sedentary, right?

Around middle age is when your body starts to fall apart. Muscle loss increases, cartilage gets weaker, collagen loss speeds up, metabolic functions degrade, etc. Physical activity of any kind is a way to slow or stop that degradation. Although walking is a low exertion activity, there are many positive benefits to even short walks. For example, someone who regularly does 10-20 minute walks may have a 12% reduction in high blood pressure and 20-30 minute walks around 30% reduction. Someone who walks in their 20’s may not really gain a lot of benefits since their body is naturally fitter, but someone in their 40’s will see significant benefits from walking compared to being sedentary. Walking itself doesn’t have magical benefits over other kinds of activity like running, swimming, dancing, etc. Pretty much any activity will give health benefits if done regularly and for moderate lengths of time. The advantages of walking is that it is so simple. You can wear normal clothes, do it anywhere, and there is very low chance of injury.

Here’s an informative and entertaining video going over some of the benefits of activity in general with the emphasis on benefits from just walking:

I sure hope so, it is my primary exercise. I’m all proud for getting in over 30 miles of walking for exercise this week. Just did it. First time I got that high in almost 5 years.

Walking is generally recommended highly by Doctors for those of us middle aged or older. I can’t speak to 20 somethings.

I’ve walked off 45 pounds. It was higher but I had a set back (hernia that required surgery) and put some weight back on. Now I’m trying to get back to the magic 50 pound number I was at and then lose some more.

I’ve lost 50 pounds since May of 2020 just walking and watching what I eat. And I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that maintaining a healthy diet is the primary reason I’ve been able to lose so much weight. I typically walk anywhere between 3-7 miles per day at an average speed of 3 miles per hour. If I started lifting some wights and engaging in more vigorous exercise I would probably shed the pounds even quicker.

I’ve been making an effort to walk about an hour at least 4 or 5 times a week, doing 3-3.5 mph on my treadmill. My good cholesterol is way up and my doc says it’s partly because of the walking. Plus my resting heart rate is in the low 50s most of the time and my BP tends to stay below 120/80, even with reduced BP meds. Along with changing my diet, I’d say the walking plays an important part in my improved health. Anecdotal, but true for me.

During my last couple of months of pregnancy, walking was the only exercise I could manage (well, I probably could have lifted weights, but that’s not a good idea). But my OB said if I was breaking a sweat, and getting my heart rate up at all, it was pretty good exercise. We had dogs, so I was going to be walking even when my back was hurting.

I was managing about two miles a day, until I hit about 36 weeks, but I was still getting in maybe a mile a day, albeit, I’d slowed down. The last week, less walking.

After my c-section, starting when the boychik was about 3 weeks old, we were back to walking. Either I’d push him in a stroller, or DH would wear him in a front pack, which the boychik loved, because he could see everything. As soon as he was walking, he was hiking.

Dear Husband? Darling Husband? Devoted Husband? Designated Hitter? :wink:

Dr. Andrew Weil’s “6 Reasons Walking Is Good For The Body, Mind And Spirit”

Since I don’t have a car, I walk everywhere, and since the pandemic hit, it’s been the only form of exercise available to me. I walk about 38 miles per week. I’m sure I’d be a blimp if I didn’t, and my blood pressure, which is on the low end of normal, would be much higher, as high BP runs in my family.

Walking is good exercise, but it does little for upper body fitness, which is especially important as people age, as it helps balance, increases longevity, and strengthens the heart. I also prefer more rigorous exercise, so once I can get back to the gym, I’ll be walking on an incline treadmill (I hope to get back to mountain hiking.) and using an elliptical. I can’t recommend the elliptical highly enough. It’s easier on the joints than walking, burns up more calories, works all four limbs, and is as easy or as demanding as you want it to be.

But yes, walking is good for you.

Well, come on. There’s a bazillion low impact body weight exercises you can do in a 5×5 room and yoga classes on YouTube.

Of course. Spare the rod, spoil the child.

Yoga is good for many things, but it’s not aerobic exercise.

I do low-impact exercises when I absolutely can’t get out to walk. Most of them are not as aerobic as I like, and in the learning phase, they can be hard for me to follow along, which I don’t like. When I walk, I go up and down steep hills.

The availability was not the point of my post, but go ahead, zero in on that.

I walk as I have the time. Typically, it’s only 2.1 miles in 40 minutes. Today I needed some stuff from the corner market, and I decided to walk there and back. Only 1.3 miles round-trip, but I feel better for doing it.

Well, sorry to zero in on the thing I disagree with rather than be the 15th person to agree walking is decent exercise.

This bears repeating, since no-one has acknowledged or replied to it so far. There are types of exercise that can improve your body’s general condition faster than walking, or achieve better condition than walking, but there are no physical health downsides to walking (bar a few rare exceptions) and only positives.

Walking really is good for your health. So is getting a dog, somewhat related.

It burns some calories, but also burns calories for hours after the walk is completed. Do not knock psychological benefits, which include better sleep, sugars and stress control.

Walking helps the calves pump blood back to the heart which is beneficial for circulation and blood pressure, and may help avoid things like diabetes or restless legs.

Walking is easy on the joints. It can be a social activity. It combines well with more vigorous forms of exercise and other relaxing things like music.

Right. Walking is an aerobic exercise that is also weight bearing, but that has an extremely low risk of causing injuries. Is not unique in any of those respects, but it’s and excellent package deal, especially as you age.