By Stacey Sullivan: Warrior Wellness Training Coach, Registered Nurse & Diet Mentor.
Whether you are looking to boost your weight loss progress, decrease your risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or even reduce your risk for cancer and dementia. There are a wide variety of reasons to include cardiovascular training in your weekly exercise routine.
But when most of us think of “cardio” training, we probably envision ourselves on a treadmill or exercise bike. Or maybe those dreadful memories of running the mile for gym class back in high schoo.. Or even hitting the line for sprints at practice as a form of punishment from coach.
In other words, most of us do not associate “cardio” with feelings of joy, pleasure or excitement. Yet ironically, most of us associate THESE forms of exercise as the ONLY way to achieve the benefits of cardiovascular training.
So if you KNOW the importance of including cardio in your routine, but you are someone that does not enjoy these “standard” forms of cardio exercise.. Why do you think you are struggling to stay MOTIVATED in completing your cardio?! Would you EXPECT yourself to LOOK FORWARD to something you associate with PAIN or PUNISHMENT?! I certainly wouldn’t. In fact, this is one of the most important factors I discuss with my clients when first developing a training program together.
Let’s take a new perspective: Could there be OTHER methods of cardiovascular training that help us achieve these SAME benefits and RESULTS?
What if you are ALREADY engaging in one of those methods?...
Every single day?...
Without even realizing it?...
Something seemingly so simple, yet SO effective and SO beneficial to our overall health.
Yupp, WALKING is here to bust the myth that cardio MUST be hard-io. And it’s bringing some SERIOUS benefits to the table! Let’s talk about it!
Minimal recovery time
Compared to high-intensity forms of cardiovascular exercise, such as sprinting or distance running, walking requires much less time for your body to recover post-workout. And if you are engaging in other forms of exercise throughout the day/week, (such as weight lifting and resistance training) walking offers the ability to increase your daily activity level without significantly compromising your level of performance in those other activities.
Along with this ease of recovery, walking can also enhance your body's ability to recover from the other forms of exercise you are engaging in throughout the week. Implementing low-intensity forms of cardiovascular training assists in the muscle recovery process by improving blood circulation and oxygen delivery to your muscles.Therefore reducing inflammation, decreasing overall soreness, and minimizing training fatigue. This allows you to recover faster and get back to training harder in your next session!
Reduced risk for injury
Did you know your legs absorb nearly 100 tons of impact force in every mile you run? Maybe not such a big deal once in a while, but over time this harsh impact can cause injury such as “shin-splints”, destruction of collagen in the joints, dislocations, tears, and even stress fractures of the legs. This can be especially concerning if you are someone new to exercise or have a prior history of joint/ligament damage, pain, injuries, or mobility restrictions. Compared to running there is a much lower level of impact to the spine, knees, ankles and hips associated with walking which further promotes daily physical activity with fewer associated risks. Staying healthy and active can be challenging enough without adding the complications of an injury to the equation!
There is a reason they say “movement creates your mood”. Physical activity signals the release of hormones in the body such as epinephrine and dopamine, often referred to as “happy chemicals” for the brain. The release of these hormones is involved in the regulation of stress, controlling anxiety, and combating feelings of depression. Which are all important aspects of our overall mental health as well as weight management. By walking, these reactions and chemical changes within the brain are achieved in the same way they would be by performing any other form of physical activity.
When approaching any goal on your health and fitness journey (or in life) the SECRET truly lies within the seemingly small things we do every single day. Because those seemingly small things are what REALLY add up to the BIG changes. If you are someone interested in adding cardiovascular training into your routine, but feel discouraged or intimidated by the standard forms of cardio, why not give walking a shot? Doing SOMETHING sure is better than doing NOTHING, I can promise you that! And who knows, you just may discover a way to ENJOY cardio again! A step in the right direction ;)