I am not a fan of cardio. Wait, let me rephrase that. I am not a fan of gym cardio. Running for hours on a treadmill or on a bike while looking at a TV opposite you – I don’t find that the least inspiring. Physique-wise I have not much to gain from that either. Being a lightweight skinny guy who is working on strength and muscle building, that type of work cannot help me much in my goals.
The benefits of cardiovascular exercise are tremendous, no objection there. You do get healthier if you exercise your heart more, better blood flow, better breathing, your lungs open up plus you get a killer leg and core workout. But if I had to choose, I would say there are other more fun ways of achieving the same results.
I would still go for a sprint in the park or the forest occasionally, mainly because I like being out in the nature and work out. But I’d much rather jump rope or do some HIIT sprinting or jumping. Biking is also fun. But recently I have been changing my opinion on one form of exercise that I used to underestimate for a long time: walking.
Walking has been gaining a lot of fans the past few years as you see more and more people putting on their sweatpants and going for a stroll. I used to think that this type of exercise was mostly good for out-of-shape older individuals who would need to take it easy in order not to get injured.
Sure, if you are an advanced athlete walking is not much of a challenge. But does everything have to be a challenge to be of some benefit?
Walking is the type of exercise I have done the most in my life. I am literally a wayfarer. I don’t have a car, I do use public transport everyday but if I’m not in a huge rush and it isn’t pouring from the skies, I choose to go on foot.
I like walking because of a number of reasons. It is the best way to see a place. It is the best way to find cool spots. It is a fantastic way for meeting people, especially if you’re on a trip. It’s easy to have a conversation while doing it. It does not demand great amounts of will power to go through. And above all, it’s so painlessly easy to do. It costs nothing and it requires nothing except for a pair of normal shoes.
Why is it good cardio though? First of all you can adjust it to your level. You can go for a power walk, you can speed up or slow down, you can choose to go uphill or downhill. Walking is really the most fundamental progressive calisthenics exercise there is!
The word fundamental is kind of important, I feel. If you can’t walk right there is no chance you will be able to run or jump. This may sound silly, but there are people who have balance issues or are generally clumsy. Is there a better start to deal with those than working on your walk?
An aspect of walking that I neglected was that it burns calories. Obviously I knew that you burn calories when you move, but I never really counted walking as a fat-burning activity in my calculations. Which is a mistake if you walk a lot.A 75kg person walking on a flat surface covering 1km in 15′ burns 66 calories (calculator). Imagine if you do 3-4km a day. It’s not a lot, say you meet a friend downtown and go on foot, you go for a walk in the stores or decide to visit the park. Or you take a long walk on a Sunday where you go from one side of the city to the other because the weather is nice. You are essentially burning calories without knowing it.
I recently noticed a slight recomp effect on my body and if I had to guess I’d attribute it to walking a lot lately without even realizing it. What happened is that I notice I am leaner than I used to be without necessarily having dropped much weight. Especially since the past month or so I aim at a small caloric surplus since I’m lean bulking – perhaps I was actually in maintenance in the end.
Another great benefit of walking as cardio is that it does not interfere with your strength gains. In order to get burned out by walking you have to be doing it all day long and not really resting that much. Little chance of that happening and even if it does, you are back on track after one or two days off. It won’t injure you or make you sore for days or even weeks like an intense running session could.
According to some, walking is also good for suppressing your appetite. Double benefit if you’re cutting, and a good counterweight if you’re bulking. And hey, if you take a piece of cake with colleagues at your lunch break it’s good to know that you can burn some of it off by walking back home.
Walking is simple painless exercise that everyone can do at any time at any place. You do it without realizing that you’re exercising, and enjoy the scenery in the process. Keep walking as the saying goes, or start if you’re not already doing it.
I’ve talked the talk. Time to walk the walk.