Aside from improving your mental and cardiovascular health, as well as aiding in weight loss, walking regularly can just be a great way to get some fresh air into your lungs and get some much-needed vitamin D from direct sunlight. Even just getting out of your home and moving around can be enough to improve your mood and well-being, as previously noted. Here Beth Skwarecki, LifeHacker.com, reflects on whether walking really counts as cardio:
“Walking is an easy way to get some exercise in your day, and it delivers mental health benefits as well. I’m one of the many people who added daily walks to my routine during the pandemic, and they improved my life so much I don’t intend to stop. But does walking do enough for your body that you can count it as cardio exercise?
The answer is complicated. Walking counts as cardio in some respects: it can burn calories, it gets your heart rate up, and it counts toward the exercise we should all be getting every week. But on the other hand, it’s not going to increase your cardio fitness in the same way as a run or an intense aerobics class would. If you want to improve your endurance, you’ll have to do more than just walking.
How walking’s calorie burn compares to running
Running burns more calories than walking per unit time, but both are similar when you consider distance. A rule of thumb is that you burn about 100 calories per mile whether you run it or walk it, but in truth calorie burn varies according to the size of your body (you burn more calories if you are larger) and how fast you run or walk. The calories per mile are slightly lower when you walk. This calculator from Runtastic (in metric, sorry) estimates that a 150-pound person will burn 82 calories by walking a mile, or 115 calories by running it.
The biggest difference is in calories per hour: for the same 150-pound person, walking burns 261 calories per hour, and running burns 714. For both calculations, I used the examples of a 20-minute mile (3 mph) for the walker and a 10-minute mile (6 mph) for the runner. The faster you go, the higher the calorie burn.
So if you’re walking or running to burn calories, running will burn more calories in half the time. But if you prefer walking and you have the time to spare, both will do the job.”
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