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Walk Yourself Fit

Image source: Hamed

Walking is a much underrated form of exercise. The general perception is that the energy expenditure to time taken ration is biased in favour of time taken, therefore people assume that a 30 minute walk is close to useless when trying to improve one’s fitness.

I for one disagree. When I refer to walking I am describing outdoor walking as a means of getting from one place to another and not simply walking aimlessly around a park. Although this too can can be beneficial.

Why walking then?

Think back to the last time you walked for any considerable duration of time. The likelihood is that you climbed hills, descended hills, dodged in and out of people, dogs, children, and cars, stepped up and down curb stones, and stopped and started often. These simple manoeuvres may appear relatively insignificant at the time but when treated as a collective they add up to a fairly strenuous episode of exercise that will improve balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength.

  • Climbing and descending hills strengthens the knee flexor and extensor muscles
  • Dodging objects adds a lateral element to the walk, beneficial for the adductor and abductor muscles of the groin
  • Stepping up and down curb stones engages the muscular neuro pathways thus improving coordination
  • Starting and stopping requires the body overcome inertia, when starting, and resist momentum, when stopping (I think that is right, although physics is a little rusty these days), therefore requiring muscular force
  • Standing still requires isometric contraction of the postural muscles (not just the legs), a strenuous task when the legs are fatigued

These reasons relate specifically to walking and are additional to the general health benefits of exercise such as:

  • It burns calories, helping you to maintain a healthy weight
  • It helps to boost your metabolism, upon arriving at your destination you will continue to have a raised metabolism that will benefit from a healthy option food source such as fruit
  • It helps to reduce body fat, walking is an aerobic exercise that utilises fats and lipids as the fuel substrate
  • It lowers your blood pressure, by improving the cardiovascular system an increased cardiac output reduces the heart rate
  • It helps you to manage stress and release tension, you have time to think things through and resolve all of life’s little worries (nearly all).

The Gearfire blog aims to increase student productivity, here is why walking will do just that:

  • Improved concentration. If you are struggling with a particular essay or piece of coursework make it your priority to walk to college. On the way you can devise a mental list of the stressors and systematically work through them enabling you to start your day in a positive manner.
  • Fight illness. Moderate exercise and immune response are highly correlated.
  • Greater confidence. Exercise will help you to look better and feel better about yourself.
  • Better sleep. You will spend greater periods of time in deep sleep and allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead, rather than waking up and feeling ready to go back to sleep.
  • Optimised circulation. Regular exercise promotes growth of the heart allowing an increased efficiency at pumping blood around the body. This is of particular benefit to the brain, an organ that thrives on the oxygen that is contained within the blood. Exercise the heart and improve cranial activity, it is as simple as that.

These are my top 5 exercise related factors that will improve student productivity, for more information please read my introductory post Fitness Advice Arrives at Gearfire

Walking as a form of exercise

If I take you back to the start of this post you will remember that many people consider walking to be an ineffective form of exercise that does not provide sufficent fitness gains compared to the duration of exercise. Well, if I were to tell you that walking can burn up to 370 kcals per hour would that change your mind? That is more than a certain brand of cheeseburger, although this does not mean that you can now go to a drive through an order one of these health hazards. Consider the calories burned as recompense for a time when you were vulnerable and ate one under mental duress.


Based on 40 year old male and females the following rate of calories per hour can be burned at specific walking speeds:

  • 2 mph~ 150 kcals
  • 3mph ~ 250 kcals
  • 4mph ~ 370 kcals

source: walking for fitness

Where and when can students find time to walk?

There really are no excuses. Students are busy people but let’s face we can all spare 30 minutes per day for a bit exercise. If you live close to college or campus, I don’t mean on campus, get yourself up an hour earlier, have some breakfast then walk in. Those who bus in can walk a few extra stops before catching it or get off a few stops early and walk the rest of the journey. During your lunch break you can walk to the sandwhich shop rather than use the canteen, take a friend for a walk and discuss things that may be causing you trouble, walk to a quiet place and read a book, or anything else – just walk. Don’t use lifts/elevators take the stairs instead, every little step counts. When you run out of milk or bread forget the car, take a 10 minute walk instead. There are numerous ways to incorporate walking into your daily activities you don’t need me to go on and on so I’ll stop here.

If you decide that walking is for you then let me know in the comments section. I’ll be glad to hear your views either way.

“To walk, or not to walk: that is the question.” – William Walkshere, there, and everywhere.

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5 Responses to “Walk Yourself Fit”

  1. Martin says:

    To get to the canteen and shops at university, I just need to walk out of my building, turn right, and everything is just a few yards away.

    But instead of turning right, I turn left. Then I walk all the way around the university in a big circle, which eventually gets me to the canteen and shops, 20-25 minutes later.

    I find circular walks helpful. However, I do prefer to regularly modify the walk by turning at different points and finding new ways to get back to where I started. Admittedly, I have that luxury. Many circular walks won’t have about 100 different combinations…

    Whilst walking, my mind wanders in a positive way, throwing all sorts of brilliant ideas up. Plus, I find a greater confidence come through as I happily smile at the people I walk past.

  2. eve isk says:

    Great post.

    As regards bolstering your metabolism, you can increase this effect even more if you take a walk before eating anything in the morning (though be sure to stay well hydrated).

  3. paulette says:

    Walking also helps us to get to the destination we wanted to be. Keep on walking and be healthy!

  4. beauty blog says:

    I like to go for a walk after I eat. It helps with digestion and burns off a few calories. Believe it or not…enough that count!

  5. some times i feel sick if i should walk after i eat :p