Is walking enough exercise to keep you healthy?

The experts have their say on the benefits of getting out and about.

Can walking keep you healthy?

Exercise is vital for keeping us fit and strong, and assisting in building and maintaining healthy bones, keeping internal organs happy, managing weight, and much more.

It has also been proven that exercise can keep you mentally well, and improve anxiety and mood swings.

As some people age, intense exercise regimes may become too hard to maintain and, therefore, walking becomes the easiest solution.

Walking has many benefits, such as reduction in the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, anxiety and depression as well as premature death from various causes.

So, what are the benefits of walking? We asked the experts.

Walking can improve aerobic fitness. This means that the heart improves its ability to pump oxygen to our muscles. However, no stroll can bring you these benefits. Experts say that walking must be at least at a moderate/brisk intensity. This is where you can notice your heart beating faster and your breathing picking up, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation without major pauses between words. 

Another simple benefit is improved flexibility and reduced joint pain. Studies have shown that daily brisk walking increases lubrication of joints, can narrow chances of arthritis and protect against the development of joint degeneration.

Strength is also a benefit of walking, with studies show that walking 30 minutes daily at a moderate intensity can help prevent sarcopenia (age-related loss in muscle size and strength).

But, there have been numerous expert debates which are questioning if walking really is enough exercise.

Here’s what Sports Scientist Jackson Fyfe believes.

‘Walking is, of course, better than no exercise at all, but to maximise health benefits, a combination of aerobic-type (running, cycling, swimming) and strength-type exercise (lifting weights or bodyweight exercises) should be performed regularly. We know being unfit shortens life, and countering the losses of muscle strength/power and bone density as we age can improve our ability to perform daily tasks, while reducing the risk of falls and associated complications. Walking alone is simply not sufficient for most people, although it may provide a platform to more specific, intense exercise. So, moderate-intensity aerobic and strength training should also be incorporated into regular exercise programs. Of course, this does not mean walking does not have benefits, but there are aspects of the health-promoting effects of exercise that walking alone cannot provide.’

So, you decide. What’s the best way to stay fit? Do you agree with Mr Fyfe?

Do you think just walking is a sufficient amount of exercise to stay healthy?


    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


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    Ted Wards
    29th May 2018
    Im living proof that walking, including power walking is indeed areobic exercise which brings all the benefits of working out at t gym. I started when I was 15 and am 53 now and through walking every day I have lost 68 kilos when I was in my late 20's and kept off the weight. Walking is a very misunderstood form of exercise but the key to exercise is find something that you enjoy and will stick at every day. If you walk away from the gym stiff and sore and it doesn't seem to be getting any better you will not continue. I now also include three sessions at the gym a week on the treadmill, cross trainer, rower and bikes so vary things a little but I still walk every day and on the weekends when Im not a work I do one 10k walk which I thoroughly enjoy.

    The issue with these articles is they are not written by older people who have spent most of their life doing things like walking, running etc and there are plenty of us around!
    29th May 2018
    I walk for 30 minutes or longer each day. I also have gone back to cycling which was a need for 28 years to get to work and back. Now retired, aged 66 and living in a flat zone, little traffic I can go as often as I like but usually twice a week for 12 klm's. I do it for fun as well as exercise. If I don't walk or cycle my knee's play up. It depends on the weather of course which where I live is ideal in winter.
    The pom
    29th May 2018
    I am coming up to 85 and can't walk as much as I used to but was still pretty good at walking through my 70s, finding no problem with such walks as the City Bay things, where I used to enter as a runner to get away from the young girls who cluttered up the road at half the speed I wanted to walk at. I was still running in full Marathons in my 50s so had a fairly good fitness level to work with
    29th May 2018
    I believe Mr Fyfe is spot-on.
    29th May 2018
    Mr Fyfe comments that walking is better than no exercise at all. Going on to say that running, cycling & swimming, lifting weights or body weight exercises should also be performed regularly too.
    That sounds all well & good but my question is WHAT AGE GROUP IS HE RELATING TO?
    Certainly not the 70 to 80 year old.
    Get real Mr Fyfe & make suggestions for THAT age group please.
    29th May 2018
    Why can't 70 year olds do those things?
    Ted Wards
    29th May 2018
    We have people in their 80's and 90's participating every week in our exercises we offer at our centre. Obviously the more you more the better your joints are going to be. Even if you can only walk to the letterbox everyday, its better than being sedentary.
    29th May 2018
    If you ever attend an Age Strong class (highly recommended if there is one near you) you will learn to work with weights and build up a lot of strength in addition to getting a better balance which is really beneficial for preventing falls.

    You will have to have a form signed by your doctor before you can proceed.

    I have had an illness which stopped me for a while but I was doing it when was 75 and will soon be again. Good luck!
    29th May 2018
    Until about a year ago, I used to go for a one-hour walk on most days and felt pretty good. Then I bought a Gazelle electric bike and started riding for an hour a day instead of walking. After a couple of months, I noticed that my fitness level had increased markedly compared to when I was walking. I think this is due to the fact that I am cycling in hilly country and because I tend to exert myself more when riding than while walking. I have also started doing pushups and crunches and have never been as fit since my heart attack in 2010.
    29th May 2018
    Exercise depends upon your level of fitness, Not one size fits all,There is nothing wrong with walking f for those of unable to do full on exercise
    29th May 2018
    Actually, it's the other way around - fitness depends on your levelof exercise.

    The article is agreeing with your second point - if walking is ALL you can do, then do that. It's better than nothing. (But if you are capable of doing more, do it.)
    29th May 2018
    I used to walk my little dog nearly every day, but as I no longer have him, my exercise has really been cut back, and I have to push myself to walk even a few times a week. I can't have another dog, as my residential village doesn't allow dogs. But I do walk to bus stops, and spend quite a bit of time walking aroung large shopping centres, when it's too wet and cold and windy outside, so I sort of keep up my exercise in an informal, unstructured way. I'm not keen on going to a gym, either.

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