There are seasons in life when a 15-minute walk is the most you can commit to your exercise routine—and, hey, that’s 100 percent okay. Maybe your job is more of a nine to nine than a nine to five right now, or childcare is monopolizing your free moments. Whatever the case, we asked a cardiologist to answer the age-old question is walking enough exercise? And the first thing you need to know is that the simple answer is yes.
According to Michael Weinrauch, MD, a New Jersey-based cardiologist, the bottom line is that even the smallest neighborhood loop can have an immense impact on your health and well-being. “The take home point here is that even 15 minutes a day of walking, without stopping, provides benefit with regards to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality,” he says.
Morbidity refers to illness or disease, while mortality refers to death. Research has associated 15 minutes of activity with a 22 percent lower risk of death (mortality), and walking with a 43 percent reduced risk in stroke and reduction the risk factors of heart attack (morbidity), regardless of how fast your heart is beating. “Keep in mind, most of the research that has been done on the benefits of walking have been done without monitoring heart rates during physical activity.
Remember, the Fitbit and smart watch apps are still actually a relatively new phenomenon,” adds Dr. Weinrauch. Long story, short: The morbidity and mortality benefits of walking seem to occur regardless of your heart’s beats per minute (BPMs).
“The take home point here is that even 15 minutes a day of walking, without stopping, provides benefit with regards to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.” – Michael Weinrauch, MD, cardiologist
With that being said, you can increase your cardiovascular fitness by increasing your heart rate and going longer distances—and that may offer even more benefits when it come to morbidity and mortality. “Cardiovascular fitness or aerobic fitness can be defined as a measurement of the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to its muscles,” explains Dr. Weinrauch.
“VO2 Max, which is the maximum rate that oxygen can be consumed during exercise that increases in intensity, is the gold standard for measurement of fitness.” However, it’s really up to you how “fit” you want to be. If you’re someone who wants to build up your VO2 max so you can run a marathon, fantastic. And if you’re someone who’s content with a brisk walk to your favorite coffee store, that’s also great.
“The bottom line is, if you are walking to improve your health, do not worry about how high to raise your heart rate. If you are interested improving your cardiovascular fitness in addition to improving your health, then more vigorous exercise training will likely be necessary,” Dr. Weinrauch says.
It’s the choose your own adventure of fitness. And regardless of your choice, you’re still collecting those morbidity and mortality benefits as long as you clock your 15 minutes each day.
Make sure to stretch after you walk!
By: Kells McPhillips
Brisk walking, like any form of exercise, will cause your heart to beat faster. As a general rule, the faster you move, the more your heart rate will increase. For example, running will typically cause a faster heart rate than walking at a leisurely pace. A stronger heart is just one of the many benefits associated with brisk walking and other forms of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise.
The heart just like any other muscle gains strength from exercise. A stronger heart can effortlessly pump more blood with each beat. The resting heart rate of people who regularly exercise tends to be lower because the heart doesn’t have to struggle to pump blood, People who regularly engage in cardiovascular activities like brisk walking have a 45 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than people who don’t maintain an active lifestyle, explains University of Maryland Medical Center.
Brisk walking can help lower “bad” or LDL cholesterol while raising “good “or HDL level. Walking or jogging 12 miles a week has been shown to significantly boost good cholesterol. You need to log at least 20 miles per week or about three miles per day to put a notable dent in LDL levels, explains University of Maryland Medical Center. Walking can also manage blood-pressure levels and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
By increasing your speed to a 4.5 mph power walk, at 13 minutes per mile, you can also increase the calories burned per mile. A 125-pound walker burns 77 calories, while a 155-pound person burns 96 calories and a 185-pound walker burns 115 calories per mile.
- “Study Compares Older and Younger Pedestrian Walking Speeds”. TranSafety, Inc. 1997-10-01. Retrieved 2009-08-24.
- Establishing Pedestrian Walking Speeds” (PDF). Portland State University. Retrieved 2009-08-24.
- “about.com page on walking speeds”. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- Walking Age Does Not Explain Term vs. Preterm Differences in Bone Geometry”. J. Pediatr. 151 (1): 61–6, 66.e1–2. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2007.02.033. PMC 2031218. PMID 17586192.
- Benefits of Walking”. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 4 December 2007.
- Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health”. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
- Why Walking is the Most-recommended Exercise”. BellaOnline. Retrieved September 2009. Check date values in:
- How to live well without owning a car. Ten Speed Press. p. 134. ISBN 1-58008-757-4. (Google books)
- When your body gets the blues: the clinically proven program for women who feel tired and stressed and eat too much. Rodale. p. 82. ISBN 1-57954-486-X. (Google books)
- The Prevention Get Thin Get Young Plan. Rodale. ISBN 1-57954-217-4. (Google Books)
- Health and wellness. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-7637-4145-7. (Google Books)
- Sustainable transport: planning for walking and cycling in urban environments. Woodhead Publishing. p. 72. ISBN 1-85573-614-4.
- Mayo Clinic Proper walking technique
- AARP – The Numerous Benefits of Walking
- “Study finds path to avoiding dementia measures 14.5 km”. Sydney Morning Herald. 15 October 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
- Taking Steps So You May Live Longer
- “Relationship of walking to mortality among U.S. adults”. Centers for Disease Control. 20 May 2011. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- The Relationship of Walking Intensity to Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. Results from the National Walkers’ Health Study”. PLOS ONE. 8 (11): e81098.
- “Statistics – Department for Transport” (PDF). Dft.gov.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-04-11. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- Correlates of Walking for Travel in Seven European Cities: The PASTA Project”. Environmental Health Perspectives. 127 (9): 097003. doi:10.1289/ehp4603. PMC 6792377. PMID 31532248.
- What has the head of a crocodile and the gills of a fish?”. evolution.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
- Hopping fish suggests walking originated underwater; Discovery might redraw the evolutionary route scientists think life took from water to land”. NBC News. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- Evolution of the Insects – David Grimaldi, Michael S. Engel – Google Books. ISBN 9780521821490. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- The ancient origins of neural substrates for land walking. Cell. Vol. 172, February 8, 2018, p. 667. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2018.01.013
- The wiring for walking developed long before fish left the sea in Science News, Feb. 8, 2018
- Footprints show human ancestor with modern stride”. Reuters. Retrieved August 2009. Check date values in:
- Researchers Uncover 1.5 Million-Year-Old Footprints”. Scientific American. Retrieved August 2009. Check date values in: