Yes, walking is cardio!
What is cardio?
"Cardio" - short for cardiovascular exercise - refers to activity that requires oxygen to meet the energy demands of your body. Any activity that increases your heart rate and breath rate while using large muscles repetitively (like arms and legs) is considered cardio exercise.
Get the most out of your step program
Walking is cardio so long as you're walking at a pace that places an increased demand on your muscles and heart. No two individuals are the same, so the point that you reach 'increased demand' is likely different from another person. That said, we can look to the F.I.T. principle to build our walking plan.
The F.I.T. Principle helps us to consider the different variables that makeup a walking routine:
- F stands for frequency or how often you walk
- I stands for intensity or how hard you're working while walking
- T stands for time (we could also swap this variable for distance if you prefer to measure miles)
To receive health benefits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults aged 18 or older get 150-minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75-minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity (or an equivalent combination of the two) each week.
The good news?
Brisk walking counts toward moderate-intensity physical activity. "Brisk" means you are walking at a pace that is faster than normal and that increases your heart rate and breath rate. The CDC says a brisk pace is equivalent to a 20-minute mile for most adults.
Just 22 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day adds up to the recommended 150 minutes each week!
If walking is good, running must be better...
Interestingly, in this study, researchers found that the energy used for moderate-intensity walking compared to vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease over the study's six-year period. That means that walking is shown to be just as effective at reducing chronic disease risk as running - sweet!
Let's get started
Walking is a convenient, affordable and effective way to improve and maintain health. So, grab a pair of your favorite sneakers, pop in your headphones and get those legs moving! As we just learned, walking is good for spirit, mind and body; and at the Y, holistic well-being is what we're all about.