By Jonathon Stavres PhD, ACSM-EP-C
When someone is starting exercise for the first time, they often anticipate long workouts filled with unfamiliar exercises; all of which can be intimidating for a first-time exerciser. While it is highly recommended to vary exercises within a workout, starting regular exercise can be as simple as walking daily.
Walking is a moderate intensity exercise
Walking is generally overlooked when someone considers moderate intensity exercise. However, walking can be very beneficial. For example, if a person who weighs 200 pounds (90.7 Kg) walks at 3.5 mph (93.8 meters per minute [m/min]) for an hour, they will burn 350.45 calories.
If they do that three times per week, then they will burn 1,051 calories per week, and will lose the equivalent of a pound of fat (3500 calories) every 3.5 weeks. That may not be the high-return workout you were looking for, but it definitely is a good place to start.
Once you have mastered that, you can then start increasing the grade of the treadmill. If the same person walks at the same speed, but this time at a 2.5% grade, they will go from burning 1,051 calories per week to 1,396 calories per week. This means that it would only take 2.5 weeks to burn the equivalent of a pound of fat.
And if that’s still not enough, if you increase your frequency of exercise to five days per week (one hour a day of walking), you could increase your weekly caloric expenditure to 2,326 calories. This means that every three weeks you would burn the equivalent of two pounds of fat. To perform your own calculations, you can visit the American College of Sports Medicine’s link to metabolic equations
For these reasons, walking might be a great way for a new exerciser to introduce themselves to regular exercise. You can start light while still burning extra calories, and build up until you are working a considerable intensity.
Walking builds strength and stamina; minimizes delayed muscle soreness
Another benefit of walking is that it starts to build cardiovascular endurance and lower body muscle strength without eliciting prolonged periods of soreness. Some beginner exercises may notice that after their first few days of working out, they feel some level of pain and soreness in their muscles. This is termed “delayed onset muscle soreness”, and is quite common following the first few bouts of high intensity exercise.
Walking is a way of building your stamina and strength while minimizing this delayed muscle soreness, so that you can graduate to higher intensity exercise comfortably.
Finally, walking is something that can be done outside, inside, and with friends or family. Exercise may not always be fun, but being able to view scenery while talking amongst friends and family is a way to make it a little more enjoyable.
Walking is a way to get acclimated to exercise and stay active during times when it is hard to do so. I recommend getting outside or jumping on the treadmill and start today! Who knows where you will be in a month, or even in a year.
For more examples of other variations/exercises look under Multimedia-VDF Exercise Tips
*Consult with a physician and/or medical healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen
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