10 Benefits of Walking

Answers FAQ

10 Benefits of Walking FAQs

Reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP, on May 16, 2018

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Q:Walking can maintain your body weight and lower many health risks. True or false?

A:Walking can help you maintain your body weight and reduce your risk for obesity. The health benefits of walking don't stop there. An easy 30-minute daily walk has been shown to:

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Help improve blood pressure
  • Manage blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Boost your sense of well-being
  • Reduce the risk of developing certain cancers (such as breast and colon cancers)

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Q:How much should you walk to maximize the health benefits of walking?

A:To reap the health benefits of walking, aim for a total 30-minute brisk walk, 5 days a week.

Most adults need about 2-1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity that increases the heart rate and breathing. If you can't walk 30 minutes in one session, break it up into three 10-minute walks.

For greater weight control and increased health benefits, you may need to walk more than 30 minutes per day.

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Q:Doctors recommend walking about 10,000 steps per day. 10,000 steps is about…

A:10,000 steps per day is the equivalent of about 5 miles walked, which meets the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

The idea of 10,000 steps daily came from the sale of 10,000 step pedometers in Japan in the 1960s. Since then, numerous studies have shown it to be a reliable goal for general health. Taking fewer than 5,000 steps per day can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.

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Q:Walking can match the benefits of running. True or false?

A:True.

In the sense that both walking and running can result in health benefits such as weight maintenance and reduced cardiovascular disease risk, walking can match running. However, walking is less intensive than running and you have to walk more than twice the time to equal the benefits of running. The American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine standards suggest 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise such as brink walking, 5 days per week (total 150 minutes/week) or intense aerobic exercise such as running for 20 minutes, 3 days per week (total 60 minutes/week).

Running is more time-efficient but it has a greater risk of injury, so walking is a solid alternative option. In the sense that both walking and running can result in health benefits such as weight maintenance and reduced cardiovascular disease risk, walking can match running. However, walking is less intensive than running and you have to walk more than twice the time to equal the benefits of running. The American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine standards suggest 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise such as brink walking, 5 days per week (total 150 minutes/week) or intense aerobic exercise such as running for 20 minutes, 3 days per week (total 60 minutes/week).

Running is more time-efficient but it has a greater risk of injury, so walking is a solid alternative option.

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Q:Walking offers cardiac benefits and can ease symptoms of depression. True or false?

A:True.

Walking is a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, and like all aerobic exercises, walking can reduce certain cardiac disease risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity diabetes, and vascular stiffness and inflammation. Walking also can also protect against mental stress, depression, dementia, peripheral artery disease, colon cancer, and erectile dysfunction.

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Q:Walking strengthens muscles. True or false?

A:Walking can help to strengthen muscles in the legs, hips, and glutes. Walking can also help keep the abdominals toned as they support your torso, your back strong as it maintains your posture, and your shoulders and arms toned as you move them while you walk.

Because walking does not work the muscles to fatigue, you will not build much muscle while walking.

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Q:Fewer than 50% of Americans meet the minimum guidelines for physical activity. True or false?

A:True.

Fewer than half of all Americans get the minimum recommended 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate exercise. Walking is one of the easiest ways to meet the minimum and maintain good health. Waking is an inexpensive activity that can be done almost any time and anywhere.

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Q:The lack of physical activity in the U.S. has contributed to a growing epidemic of obesity. True or false?

A:True. The lack of physical activity in the U.S. has contributed to a growing epidemic of obesity.

More than 1/3 of Americans are obese. The propensity for inactivity can start early. In 1974, 2/3 of American children walked or biked to school; today only about 13% of kids do so. As adults, we have longer work commutes - up to an average of 100 hours annually sitting in a car, bus, or train.

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Q:Walking supports your joints. True or false?

A:True.

In addition to helping strengthen muscles, walking can support your joints and help you maintain range of motion. Joint cartilage can be relatively avascular, that is, little to no direct blood supply. The joints stay healthy when movement squeezes the cartilage and helps circulate joint fluid (synovial fluid) which can carry nutrients and oxygen to the joints.

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Q:Walking just 10 minutes, three times a day, can help control high blood pressure. True or false?

A:True.

Just 10 minutes of walking, three times per day can help control high blood pressure. Other lifestyle modifications that can help maintain healthy blood pressure include a healthy diet low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol, and high in fruits and vegetables; and not smoking.

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