There’s good news for those of us who like to take the slow route. When it comes to exercise, we tortoises get the same health benefits as the hares. University of California, Berkeley researchers studied nearly 50,000 people over six years, and found that slow walkers and fast runners had similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. What’s more, walking puts far less wear and tear on one’s joints than bone-jarring, high-intensity running.
The UC, Berkeley team’s findings, published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, challenge the widely held assumption that runners are healthier than walkers, which many previous studies have indicated.
But, before slow walkers celebrate the findings, it’s important to understand that more time must be budgeted for walking workouts to get the same benefits as runners. You can walk slowly, but you have to cover the same distance as runners.
Health writer, Jill Barker offered several suggestions for walkers seeking to match running’s health benefits:
- Set distance goals. Plan your walking route based on distance, not time. Distance is what matters.
- Add variety to your walking workout. Like joggers do, walkers should plan workouts to vary between long and short walks.
- Get playful. To energize your walks, pick out a landmark (mailbox, street sign, or distinctive house) in the distance, and speed walk until you get there. Repeat gradually, integrating these speed walks into your workout.
- Take care of your feet. Walkers should wear lightweight, breathable, and comfortable footwear with polyester (not cotton) socks designed to wick sweat and maintain their shape.
For more tips on how to improve your walking workout, read Jill Barker’s story on the benefits of slow walking.