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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is walking real exercise?

    My husband is a runner and often on weekends we walk in the morning together and he runs in the afternoon. In talking about it this weekend he told me he thinks walking isnt real exercise? Is that true? I feel that a 45 minute power walk is great exercise, doesnt make you pant or sweat like running, but still it's better then nothing, right?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Stacey Bryden

    Dietitian, Exercise Scientist, Nutritionist

    No current information. View Profile

    Walking is great exercise! Especially when done for at least 30 minutes at an intensity where you “can talk but can't sing”. There is an adundance of evidence indicating that regular brisk walking not only improves fitness and assists weight management, but also reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and other chronic illnesses. Furthermore, it is lower impact than, for example, running, so injury risk is low. And just in case these reasons aren't quite enough to convince you… walking is a cheap way to exercise and you can do it anywhere at anytime!

  • Chris Flavel

    Exercise Physiologist

    I've been an Exercise Physiologist for 10 years, working in predominantly with the aged - pre-operative hip/knee replacements and chronic disease. Currently employed as Senior … View Profile

    I completely agree with Stacey - walking can acheive moderate benefits for your health, but adding in some more vigourous exercise per week can achieve greater benefits.  The best thing to do is vary your activity, keep your body guessing as to what you want it to do next.  Challenge your body to do new things, like climbing a number of steps, attend an exercise class, whatever you enjoy the most.  For particular conditions, walking is perfect (ie overweight and just starting out), but for arthritis or other painful weight-bearing conditions aqua therapy can be an option.

    Last word - make it fun, make it enjoyable, make it pain-free!

    Take Care,


  • Brad McGregor

    Exercise Physiologist

    Brad is an exercise physiologist specialising in musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Clients include Workcover Qld, Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services and other private insurers. He has worked with athletes … View Profile

    I concur with the other contributors here - walking is a terrific form of exercise. There is some very good evidence out there on the efficacy of walking for the prevention of & treatment of a host of conditions incuding coronary heart disease, osteoarthritis & type 2 diabetes mellitus.

    I believe it is paramount to consider the application of training principles in order to derive benefit from any mode of exercise. I have spoken to plenty of individuals who take great pride in telling me that they walk every day, however despite this they are still encountering weight/health issues. A little probing reveals that they walk the same distance over the same time at the same frequency. Whilst the body will make some initial positive adaptations, this trend will not be continued unless something is progressed. It is important to manipulate the key variables of volume, intensity, duration & recovery in a gradual fashion on order to continue this positive adaptation.

    Congratulations on your efforts to date & good luck with everything moving forward.


  • Sharon Brooks


    Sharon, a Registered Nutritionist RNutr and Food Scientist runs a nutrition consulting business that specialises in proactive nutrition and disease prevention.Sharon runs corporate, school and … View Profile

    I agree with Stacey, Chris and Brad, walking is fantastic. 

    Walking boosts endorphins, eases stress, tension, anger, irritabilty and fatigue. Regular walkers tend to have lower blood blood pressure than non-exercisers- walking improves heart functionality and circulation, stregthens legs, works the core, back muscles and balanace.

    Studies have also shown that regular walking enhances blood metabolic markers - that is imporvements to digestion and absorption of nutrients is seen. Walking after dinner or first thing in the morning can boost your metabolism and assist in balancing blood sugar levels. Regulating blood sugars is crucial for Diabetes prevention.

    The only caveat is that you need to walk at a reasonal pace for a minimum of 30 minutes. Obviously, if you walk faster and longer, increased benefits will be seen.  

    So, in short, keep enjoying your regular walks :) 

  • michaelace

    HealthShare Member

    Walking is a great, low impact exercise & can be done at varying speeds & intensity depending on your level of fitness. Once fit enough to maintain a reasonable pace on the flat, start exploring ways to increase your level of “overload”. This is where you set a more difficult & challenging route for yourself. For example, utilising a set of stairs, varying terrain (hills, rougher ground, bush walking, soft sand etc), carrying a backpack topped up with sand in plastic bags. By doing this you are tricking your body into working harder & not simply going on auto pilot because you're walking the same boring route every day. Go explore & have fun with it.

  • Andrew Davey

    Registered Nurse

    I am a practising Registered Nurse and freelance health writer. I have contributed to many online and print magazines, and am currently supplying health and … View Profile

    Statistics from the 2011/12 census show that “walking for exercise” is the most practiced form of exercise that Australians perform. 2.7 million women in Australia participated in walking for exercise in the last year. 

    Even though walking may not burn calories as fast as swimming or cycling, it is easy, and is amintainable. Losing weight is all about burning more calories than you put in, and if you can find a exercise that is sustainable and enjoyable, then you will garner a lot of health benefits from that.

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