Why is Walking So Good For You?

Why is Walking So Good For You?

Walking is universally accepted as a powerful tool for exercise and increasing one’s level of physical activity. The reason for this is simple: accessibility. Walking is easily attainable by all people willing to do it. It does not require any skills, talent, or training. It can also be performed indoors, or outdoors, in one’s home or one’s own neighborhood outdoors. No gym membership required.

Walking Increases Physical Activity Level

There really is nothing inherently special about walking, except that it is a simple type of aerobic physical activity [1]. It is not hard to imagine that walking expends additional energy, increasing heart rate and cardiovascular endurance, strengthening the leg muscles, and even improving posture [2].

A study of a single golfer measured the effects of walking on energy usage in three different scenarios. First with a caddy carrying his bag (1954 kcal), walking while carrying the bag (1527 kcal), and using a golf cart for transportation (1303 kcal). Unsurprisingly, there was an increasing number of calories spent while walking, with the highest energy spent while both walking and carrying his own golf bag. Oxygen consumption followed the same trend along with average heart rate [3].

Another study of older women found peak oxygen usage to increase 12% or more depending on the amount of walking, over a 6-month study. Body fat percentage was also found to decrease in the walking groups [4].

Does Walking Pace Matter?

Walking has a unique benefit over other means of physical activity. Due to the self-decided pace and ease of starting (most people walk each day), it is a great way for people who are not currently physically active to begin to improve their health. The key is walking for purposes that are not for daily transportation, but that are intended toward exercise.

Researchers agree that starting out at a normal walking pace and gradually increasing to a brisk walk should be able to generate the levels of physical activity needed to bring beneficial results [2]. The researchers suggested ~6km or 3.72miles per hour as the definition of brisk walking, and the ideal walking pace for beneficial levels of physical activity. The WalkingPad A1 Pro has a maximum speed of exactly 3.72mph, making it perfect for indoor walking exercise.

How to Best Tackle Your Goals - Motivation

An interesting article from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine titled “Prescribing Pleasure and Meaning”, discusses the different types of motivations – “controlled” and “autonomous” motivation. Controlled motivation is primarily achieved through fear of consequences if one were to not do something. Autonomous motivation is motivation when one clearly sees the benefits of an action and they gladly partake in that action to reap the benefits. The longer lasting and more powerful motivator is by far autonomous motivation and is the most likely to be sustainable [1].

Exercise Improves Sleep

Physical activity is generally accepted to have a positive effect on sleep. One meta-review study (an analysis study of other existing studies) found that 66 studies showed a positive effect on sleep parameters. The researchers described two distinct categories of exercise: acute (immediate effects of single or short term activity) and regular (sustained and observed over longer periods of time). The researchers found that acute exercise improved parameters such as total sleep time, time to fall asleep, sleep efficiency, stage 1 sleep, slow wave sleep, time waking during sleep, and increased REM. Regular exercise improved total sleep time, sleep efficiency, time to fall asleep and sleep quality. Interestingly, exercise intensity did not have a significant effect on the results [5].


Another meta-review study looked specifically at moderate exercise: walking, home pilates, tai chi, roller skating, general home exercise. All were found to show significant improvements in various sleep metrics. Moderate exercise was also found to be more beneficial than vigorous exercise [6].

Effect of Exercise on Cognitive Function

One analysis study reviewed data from a European survey, known as SHARE, which included over 100,000 people. This study is designed to follow a group of participants and measure their life conditions through time, including cognitive function. The researchers used the data to determine a relationship between physical activity and cognitive functioning. The researchers concluded that there was a direct correlation with the amount of physical activity and the cognitive functioning observed, with more physical activity being favorable [7].

In another analysis, researchers found fourteen studies in younger and healthy adults showing the significantly positive effect physical activity has on cognitive function, specifically executive function, memory testing and processing speed [8].

If you are curious about what executive function is, you can read more about it here.

In general, physical activity has consistently been shown to have positive effects on the brain. Testing in animals has shown improvements in memory and learning, the development of new neurons (neurogenesis), and protection from injury to the nervous system or neurodegenerative diseases. In humans, clinical studies have shown increases in brain volume in certain areas and enhanced mental abilities [9].

Improved Mood - Can Exercise Reduce Anxiety, Depression, and Stress?

There is a large body of research showing the beneficial effects of exercise on mood disorders, including significant anxiety [10]. One study showed that a single session of physical activity is as effective as meditation and quiet rest at reducing anxiety [11].

Convenient Cardio At Home

Walking or running has never been so easy with portable, folding treadmills. These are a great option for those who are busy or just want an easy way to increase their activity levels and consistency.

Your Experts in Home Wellness Technology

We all face limits with our bodies and our abilities. At High Tech Healing, we research and find home wellness tools that help you conquer your fitness and health.

Walking Research

Did you know that walking is just as effective as meditation and quiet rest at improving your mood? Visit our research page to learn more.

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