Here’s Why Walking Is a Great Workout

Walking has gotten a bum rap, but this workout actually offers major health benefits

Walking, as a workout, has gotten a bum rap. Some even say it’s not a workout at all, but just because it conjures images of old folks strolling doesn’t mean it won’t help you lose weight, gain strength or even prevent major illnesses.

It’s a low-impact, equipment free (minus some good shoes) form of exercise that anyone can do, just about anywhere. It’s as accessible as fitness gets and here’s why we acknowledge it as an exercise—and a great one, at that.

Walking strengthens the heart and lungs, just like other cardio exercises. Even more impressive, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California found brisk walking was more effective than running at reducing the risk of heart disease. They looked at people between the ages of 18 and 80 for six years and found that walking cut the risk of heart disease by 9.3%, while running cut it by 4.5%.

It can ward off certain diseases and even save lives, just like other forms of physical fitness. A study by the Ramblers and Macmillian Cancer Support found that if people walked the recommended 2.5 hours each week there would be 36,815 fewer premature deaths, 12,061 fewer people hospitalized with coronary heart disease and 294,730 fewer cases of diabetes—and that’s just in England.

Walking helps improve endurance, just as other exercise does. Walking offers many of the same benefits as running, it just takes longer. If you’re hoping to improve overall endurance, fit some walking in and reap the low-impact and low-risk benefits.

It helps people lose weight, or maintain their weight loss, just like other exercise does. Walking, especially at a fast pace or up hills, is a great way to maintain a healthy weight. A 30 minute session, depending on your pace, could burn more than 150 calories.