Wellness Corner: Walking for Fitness
According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2010), physical inactivity or insufficient physical activity is the fourth leading risk factors for mortality at 6% of deaths globally, following high blood pressure at 13%, tobacco use at 9%, and high blood glucose also at 6%. In another document, the WHO (2018) reported that one out of four adults is not active enough, while eight out of ten adolescents are insufficiently physically active. The document (WHO, 2018) showed that although both boys and girls, between 11 to 17 years old are less active, the girls are more inactive than the boys.
This “inactive” phenomenon is partly caused by the nature of our work. Unlike in the past, when people have to go out of their office to deliver letters or correspondence or visit their colleagues or friends in other offices, now because of technology this can be done through the internet, which contributed to inactivity. Likewise, an increase in the use of “passive” transport also contributes to insufficient physical activity. Passive transport refers to the use of vehicles for transportation, as opposed to active transport, like walking or cycling. C3 Collaborating for Health (2012) reported that nations with the highest levels of active transport, generally have the lowest rates of obesity.
However, despite the alarming result, the WHO (2010) is confident that the data can be reversed, with active and regular participation in physical activity. In response to this increasing phenomena, the organization (WHO, 2010) recommended that adults between the ages 18 to 64 years old engage in physical activities, which include but not limited to recreational and leisure-time physical activity, walking, doing household chores and engaging in community activities.
To be effective, moderate-intensity physical activities should be done every day throughout the week. Despite this, it is important to consider that the level (or intensity) of activity varies from person to person. Therefore, before one engages in physical activity, they should first secure medical clearance from their physician. But, how much physical activity should we do? The American Heart Association (AHA, 2019) recommended that individuals should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, particularly aerobic. In the same document (AHA, 2019), the experts recommended that people should “move more, and sit less.” A study cited by Health Harvard (2018), found that walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31%.
Just like any activity, participation in physical activities carries risks, but the benefits outweigh the potential harm. According to Health Harvard (2018), the benefits of walking include lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke. To reap the benefits of walking, however, one must consider the intensity, duration, and frequency of the activity. Since walking is considered as a moderate-intensity exercise, those who walk are advised to do it for a longer period and to get out more often to match the benefits of running. But before one engages in walking, they should consider not only their fitness level, but also their abilities, preference, and daily schedule. Although both running and walking are considered beneficial, walking is less risky and therefore can be pursued by anyone, particularly the elderly. The risk of injury in walking is less than 1% while running is about 20% (Health Harvard, 2018).
Walking, aside from being beneficial for maintaining healthy, balance, and active lifestyle is also simple and inexpensive, can promote socialization and is also good for the environment. As Einstein puts it: “…only when moving can one comfortably maintain one’s balance” (Isaacson, 2008).
1. American Heart Association (2019). How much physical activity do you need?: https://www.heart.org/-/media/files/healthy-living/healthyforgood_physicalactivity_adult_infographic_final.pdf?la=en&hash=6007B34509708A5DADFC52713D049A0BA8484534
2. C3 Collaborating for Health. The benefits of regular walking for health, well‐being and the
3. Health Harvard (2018). Walking: Your steps to health: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/walking-your-steps-to-health
4. World Health Organization (2010). Global recommendation for physical activity for health: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44399/9789241599979_eng.pdf?sequence=1
5. World Health Organization (2018). World health statistics: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/272596/9789241565585-eng.pdf?ua=1