There is no denying that walking is a great form of exercise. It’s easy, you can do it anywhere and you don’t need expensive equipment or membership to get started. And for many people, reaching a specific daily goal, whether it’s 7,000 or 10,000 steps, is enough to keep them energized and healthy.
However, new research suggests that there is a workout that is not only more effective than those daily walks, but is three times as beneficial as walking for your health.
A 2021 study published in the European Heart Journal followed 2,070 adults who participated in the Framingham Heart Study, where they measured the amount of exercise using accelerometers.
What the researchers found was that moderate or vigorous exercise — defined as 100 to 129 steps per minute or more than 130 steps per minute, respectively — was ideal for the subjects’ overall health and well-being, and actually three times more beneficial than regular walking. (defined as a pace between 60 and 99 steps per minute).
“We expected that greater amounts of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as exercise, would lead to better peak performance in exercise, but we were surprised to find that higher-intensity activity was also more efficient than walking in improving the ability of exercise. the body to start and persist in lower levels of exertion,” explained Matthew Nayor, MD, MPH, cardiologist at Boston Medical Center, assistant professor of medicine at Boston University and the lead author of the study.
“If your goal is to improve your fitness, or to slow the inescapable decline of fitness that occurs with age, you should do a minimum of moderate exercise [through intentional exercise] is more than three times more efficient than walking alone at a relatively low cadence,” Nayor added.
In addition, Nayor’s team found that more vigorous activity can actually combat some of the health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
“We found that individuals with above-average steps per day, or moderate-vigorous physical activity, had above-average fitness levels, regardless of how many time they spent sitting. So it seems that much of the negative effect that being sedentary has on fitness can be offset by having more activity and exercise as well,” explains Nayor.
So if you’re looking to improve your overall health and fitness level, you don’t have to trade those daily walks for a hardcore workout routine — you might just want to pick up the pace a bit.
For more incentive to put on those sneakers, check out What a Daily Walking Habit Does to Your Body After 60 Years, Science Says, and for the latest health and fitness news in your inbox, Sign up for our newsletter!
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