If there's one takeaway from Health's in-depth look at walking as a viable form of exercise, it's to never underestimate the power of this seemingly "low-impact" workout. From weight loss to disease prevention, walking for just 30 minutes a day can vastly improve your overall health.
What's more, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology actually found that walking quickly with hand and/or ankle weights can actually burn the same number of calories (or more) than jogging for the same amount of time. Male and female participants walking with weights at two, three, and four miles per hour burned an average of 120 to 158 calories per mile, compared to 120 to 130 calories per mile when running at five, six, or seven miles per hour. Surprisingly, hand weights alone actually had more of an impact on energy cost than ankle weights or the two together.
"From a purely physiological standpoint, walking raises your heart rate and burns calories," said celebrity trainer David Kirsch, whose client list includes Jennifer Lopez, Kate Upton, and more. "But it’s also a great way to increase your mind-body connection, focus on your breath, spend time in nature, meditate, and de-stress."
Kirsch recommends walking up to 10,000 steps a day for beginners, mainly because it's "considered a good target for heart health and weight management." To amp up the intensity, he recommends walking a hilly landscape or wearing two- to three-pound ankle and hand weights. "Walking is so good for you," he concludes. "It’s a great start and supplement to any wellness program."
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