For people who are planning to lose weight, brisk walking can be a better alternative for those who cannot afford the gym.
A new study found that regular walkers are able to lose or maintain their weight more effectively than people training at the gym.
Researchers from the London School of Economics studied more than 50,000 patients between 1999 and 2012 and found that those who walked regularly had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than patients who engaged in high-intensity exercises.
"We think it is because walking is more convenient than the gym, and is easier for people to maintain," said Dr. Grace Lordan, one of the study's lead authors. Walking is indeed an easy to adopt, low-impact exercise that can be adjusted to suit an individual walker's physical condition. Best of all, it's free and can be done virtually anywhere.
She added that this is especially true for older people who can adapt to walking easier than they can with higher impact routines typically performed at the gym.
Lordan and her team studied the activity levels and types of exercises performed by the participants which increased heart rate and caused perspiration. They also correlated BMI and waist circumference measurements of the patients to come up with these findings.
In their article, the team said that while government-issued guidelines recommended for adults to have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, there is no indication which type of activity is most effective.
The researchers recommend that their study should support a campaign to encourage people to engage in regular brisk walking exercises. They also recommend the government to focus more on promoting physical activity instead of just focusing on policies to promote healthy diets or eradicating junk foods.
"The results thus provide an argument for a campaign to promote walking," Lordan said. "a simple policy that "every step counts" may be a step towards curbing the upward trend in obesity rates and beneficial for other health conditions."
In the United States, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently recommended walking for Americans as a way to decrease risk for obesity and heart disease. He also promoted the importance of making the city streets and environment safer for pedestrians to encourage people to walk more.