For those looking for something a little less intense than running but still wanting to elevate their heart rate (and burn calories), walking may be the answer. Known well as a low-impact form of exercise, walking allows the individual many of the benefits of running while nullifying some running's more intense effects.
One of the most important elements to making walking an effective exercise is patience. Due to the fact that the intensity level is that much less than running, generating an effective cardio session requires more time. If an individual were to run 3 miles in 20 minutes, then the following day, walk those same three miles but take 60 minutes to complete the session, that individual will have burned roughly the same amount of calories, the only difference being the amount of time invested.
Of course, the benefit from running lost is the aerobic element. While you may gain a slight aerobic advantage by walking regularly, it will have nowhere near the effect of running at 2-3 times the speed of the walking pace. Elevating the heart rate at a sustained level for a period of time will increase your cardiovascular strength, making your heart more efficient. Once again though, while this is a positive effect, the benefit is not as strong as those gained from running.
The major advantage walking has over running is the low impact it has on the knees and back. Those that have experienced knee, back, hip, or ankle issues have probably found that walking 3 miles is much more manageable than running 3 miles.
Pros of walking:
- Slight boost in aerobic endurance
- Provides low impact alternative to running
- Lowers resting heart rate
- Great for beginners just getting into a fitness program
Cons of walking:
- Time investment for an effective workout takes much longer
- Aerobic endurance benefit not nearly as strong as running
- Does not provide great toning benefits