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Thread: Does walking directly improve fitness? page

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    atmetal's Avatar
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    Does walking directly improve fitness?

    Having read an article on MDA about all the benefits of walking or other low-level aerobic activity, I noticed there wasn't a mention of anything directly related to fitness. Sure, walking helps regulate the metabolism, reduce inflammation, reduces stress, and tones muscles and joints...all good stuff. But for a while now, I have been walking at an intensity to keep my heart rate at the top of Mark's recommended range of 55-75% of max. I'm beginning to wonder if there is any real benefit to being there as opposed to the lower end of the range. I had assumed that the higher my heart rate, the more improvement I'll see in my lung power, endurance, and other fitness measurements. I probably also assumed that I was burning more fat at 75% vs 55%.

    I'm asking about this because to achieve 75% of my max, there is no steady pace I can move outside. I have to go to a treadmill and put it at the right incline. The boredom is starting to get to me. I would rather be outside and relax. But outside, if I jog continuously, my heart rate gets too high. If I walk continuously, my heart rate never gets high enough. So I'd like to know if I really should be at the upper level of the heart rate range, or if I'd be good with just a 2 mile or so casual walk every day (with little regard to my heart rate). If it matters, I do engage additional activity in the form of weekly sprints and 3-5 days/week of strength training.

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    InSearchOfAbs's Avatar
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    Well, I think you may be over thinking it just a wee bit, but I'm OCD like that
    too..... so ANYWAY!

    What *I* do outside, cuz I can't stand the treadmill very long either, is to do intervals:

    3 minutes at 3mph, then up to 4.5mph for a minute to get the heart rate up to whatever is
    75% of your max, then back to 3mph for three minutes - repeat.

    It's a little tedious to keep track sometimes, BUT, if you want to get even more kray-kray OCD,
    you can always make yourself a little music mix on your ipod or whatever and put 3mph beats
    on there and then a 4.5mph beat song on......

    Anyway, just my suggestions.

    Julie

  3. #3
    specsAreGrok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atmetal View Post
    The boredom is starting to get to me. I would rather be outside and relax.
    Your answer lies within the quote above ^. Screw treadmills, I love my 3mile runs with my dogs in the black of night.

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    There's some benefit to exercising at 180 - your age beats per minute. This will be fairly low.

    You could also alternate jogging and walking to keep the heart going in range.

    You could seek out some hills for your walk. Even overpasses are hills, although not as pleasant as quieter streets. Stadium steps are another option.

    You could just walk at a purposeful pace and enjoy the outdoors and not care about your heart rate. I honestly believe that walking at a human pace out in the sun, out in nature, is one of the healthiest things you can do for your mind and body.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    I can squat 180lbs, press 72.5lbs and deadlift 185lbs

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    Ayla2010's Avatar
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    Its still better than doing nothing at all
    My fitness improved while walking every night, at a reasonable speed (unsure on heart rate though).

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    Everything is relative, if you are used to do nothing and start walking for half an hour per day then you will improve fitness. And if you are used to do fast running for half an hour per day and changes to walking the same time then you lower your fitness, so it depends...

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    Forever Young's Avatar
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    The answer to your question is not very much. If someone is totally sedentary and they start walking then yes it will improve fitness. Its going from nothing to something. Walking alone isn't going to give you that fitness that sets you apart from your peers as time rolls on. They key is brief, very intense bouts of exercise followed by adequate recovery. This is what sets one up metabolically to maintain their youth in spite of the calendar.
    Then, activities like walking are beneficial in other ways like stress relief, mind clearing etc.

    My advice is to have the foundation program that builds total body strength, cardio and metabolic conditioning. Done properly, you needn't plan out other activity. You will however find that you want to go out and do things. You'll have that energy and drive to be active without stressing over it.

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    Ernie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by canotryss View Post
    answer lies within the quote above ^. Screw treadmills, I love my 3mile runs with my dogs in the black of night.
    You could try throwing on a pack with a bit of weight in it...

  9. #9
    atmetal's Avatar
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    I'd still like to know if I would see any difference between keeping my heart rate at 75% vs 55%. But I like the suggestion of adding weight. I'll look into that.

  10. #10
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    You are really playing with minutia. Go for your walk and have some fun. At one time I was into racing my bike and was consumed by all the data. It all became more fun when I stopped wearing a HR monitor and ditched the cycling computer. I can tell by your question that you are focusing on the data, just as I did on my bike. Just let it go. Your not going to live a second longer by the way you walk.

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