The title may upset some readers, especially if you are an avid runner; sorry about that. I don’t mean to upset or go against what you enjoy — that’s not what I do — I intend to inform and educate people to understand more about their bodies, what’s good for them, and what’s not. Plus, I desire to help folks train more safely and effectively and encourage them to eat the healthiest food they possibly can, and to achieve that, you must understand what food is all about! The good and the bad.
Let’s take a look at the obvious first:
Aerobic versus Anaerobic.
Walking at a slow, medium, or fast pace will always elevate your heart rate into your gentle aerobic zone, which is the fat-burning zone. No matter how fit or unfit you may be, you want to burn fat as much as possible, not glucose or muscle tissue — this applies with walking.
Think about this little benefit:
Every time you need to walk somewhere in your day, you burn fat (and calories, of course) — be that to the car, bathroom, upstairs, downstairs, around your office; every time you walk, your aerobic system kicks into action.
When you run — most people — will be running fast, out of breath, and huffing and puffing along the way. I know, I used to do it for years, and it felt great, running fast, covering distance, you feel exuberant, alive, and that you’re building a robust fit heart, lungs, and legs!
Well, the truth is somewhat different. Younger folks get away with this more easily because their bodies can take it and their metabolisms are faster — until they reach a certain age. With time, this changes, relatively fast actually. Yet even younger people, athletes, can and do just keel over from a heart attack, a shock to the system, and that can be the end of your road.
Running, even jogging, will mostly lift your heart rate into the anaerobic zone. If you train in this zone for sustained periods, three things happen;
- You’re not burning any fat, but instead, glucose.
- When your glucose reserves are spent, your body starts to convert muscle tissue into glucose for energy — the process is called gluconeogenesis.
- A high heart rate causes our stress hormone to release into the bloodstream — cortisol. Our body perceives the activity as stress (even if you’re enjoying it) and sends out the fight or flight warning signal, but you don’t know as you’re in a euphoric state of mind. Excessive cortisol can and will, over time, cause heart disease, and folks can keel over, as mentioned above.
I had some push-back from a few folks who read my article claiming I’m wrong and running is great. Well, I’ll include a few more quotes from doctors and scientists;
Excessive running may thicken the heart tissue, causing fibrosis or scarring, and this may lead to atrial fibrillation or irregular heartbeat. Prolonged exercise may also lead to “oxidative stress,” a build-up of free radicals that may bind with cholesterol to create plaque in your arteries.
The causes of shin splints are clear. Shin splints happen from overuse with too much activity or an increase in training. Most often, the activity is high impact and repetitive exercise of your lower legs. This is why runners, dancers, and gymnasts often get shin splints.
I don’t know — but these facts don’t lie!
Joints, oh the joints.
Joints are, believe it or not, vital parts of our bodies, yet we all take them for granted and abuse them with many sporting and leisure activities. Just a few examples, all of which ruin our joints over time:
These are sports activities that most of us do or used to do. Excessive practice will eventually break down your joints, causing inflammation, arthritis, torn ligaments, etc.
When the damage is done, it’s done and hard to impossible to reverse without serious surgery, and that’s a whole different story because once the path of surgery and recovery, you’re on a slippery slope to getting worse until you stop and treat your body kindly!
Most have to learn this fact the hard way, including me some 7 years ago, when I had to have my right knee replaced with a total titanium knee replacement. I could barely walk due to severe arthritis and the loss of all cartilage, leading to my bones grinding against each other, which I can tell you is seriously painful!
Running a lot will, over time, cause ankle and knee joint damage.
Next — Lower back.
The high impact of running aggravates your lower back, which causes inflammation and severe back pain — and it’s a pain in the back to live with this condition! I still suffer from lower back pain today due to my excessive sporting years and running.
Physical Benefits of Walking:
- Burns fat, as walking is a cardio exercise that keeps you within the aerobic fat burning zone of 180 maximum heart rate, minus your age.
- Walking supports weight loss.
- Lowers your blood pressure.
- Walking will lower the risk of stroke.
- Easy on your joints, especially ankles, knees, and back, compared to running, which pounds ankles, knees, and back, causing injury and arthritis over time.
- Walking builds bone strength, as the low impact supports bone density.
- Walking is excellent for your heart health, as your heart is never overstressed.
- Stimulates your organs to work more efficiently.
- Fantastic for your legs, especially if you walk in the sand, or are trekking hills, in forests, or hiking.
- Have a headache? Walking in the fresh air will help get rid of it.
- Are you feeling tired or sluggish in the morning? A fast-paced walk will bring a spring back in your step.
- Maybe you are feeling stiff from a long-distance flight or car ride? Walk it off!
- Jetlagged from the 14-hour time zone difference? An hour’s power walk will soothe the symptoms.
- Poor posture from your desk job and slouching? Walking corrects posture.
- Reduce stress and anxiety by walking in nature.
- Is your mind blocked, you can’t focus? Go for a walk, and it will free your mind and stimulate the creative side of your brain.
- Decisions, decisions, decisions, and can’t make them? Walking, stop thinking, and your mind will align itself again and help you come to sensible conclusions.
- Angry, disappointed, or any other negative emotions? Walking will relax you, calm your mind, and bring back a sense of balance.
- Don’t like to sit still and meditate? As I mentioned above, this is where “strolling walking” is worth gold. I have practiced this for years as well. Stopping to smell the roses certainly works. Mindful meditative walking is what I call this exercise, and this is how it’s done; walk at a slower pace, look around at your environment and take it all in. Then stop, breathe, smile, and be thankful to be there, healthy and alive.
- You are feeling lazy but guilty because you haven’t exercised all day? Then walking is your answer. Just get outside rain or shine, cold or warm, and walk fast-paced for half an hour. You will feel much better, in body and mind!
- THE best thing to do to improve our overall health and longevity.www.consumerreports.org
- Walking can lower the risk of cancer. www.cancer.org
- Longer life. In a review of studies published in 2014 in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, researchers found that walking for roughly 3 hours a week was associated with an 11 percent reduced risk of premature death compared with those who did little or no activity.
- Better memory and cognitive function. A clinical trial of older adults in Japan published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in 2015 found that after 12 weeks, men and women in a prescribed daily walking exercise group had significantly more significant improvements in memory.
Walking has none of the adverse effects of running; it’s a safe, low-impact way to build a strong heart, lungs and burn fat consistently, which takes little effort to do! A win-win in my book!
Walking will energize you, make you feel better and more grounded/balanced.
Walking is easy to do, just get up and go for a walk, anywhere, it doesn’t matter where. Around the block, a few times will do, or up and down your stairs at home!
Please join me in the “Power of Walking.”
Thanks for reading,