INDIANAPOLIS– Walking may offer the best combination of ease and accessibility of any exercise activity, according to experts presenting today at the 55th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), held in Indianapolis.
Session presenters stressed that the simplicity of walking – and the fact that nearly everyone can partake in it without high costs – makes it one of the best ways to achieve recommended amounts of daily physical activity.
“There are certainly many forms of cardiovascular exercise that improve health and fitness, such as running, cycling, and swimming,” said Catrine Tudor-Locke, Ph.D., FACSM, one of the session leaders. “But from the perspective of finding a great exercise program for the most number of people, walking is the best bang for your buck.”
Tudor-Locke says that walking also offers the most opportunities for participation, since it can be done for a variety of reasons, such as transportation or simply taking the dog for an evening walk. ACSM recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days per week or more, which Tudor-Locke says can easily be achieved through walking. Moderate-intensity activity helps prevent or cure numerous chronic diseases.
But like any exercise program, walking still takes a certain amount of planning for most people’s schedules – especially those whose professions involve significant sedentary time. A study presented as part of the session found a direct correlation between higher time spent sitting and less time spent walking throughout the course of the day.
A pedometer can help track steps taken per day – recommended amounts are usually around 10,000 – but it doesn’t have to be a bank-breaking buy. Another study at the session found that measurements of moderate-to-vigorous activity were similar between an expensive accelerometer ($325) and two more wallet-friendly pedometers ($48 and $14).
“That’s another great thing about walking – no matter what your income level is, you can do it,” Tudor-Locke said. “A pedometer can be useful for building steps, but other than that and a decent pair of tennis shoes, there’s no specialized equipment necessary.”
Further, walking can be used as a determiner of cardiovascular fitness in middle-aged women. A third study presented at the session showed that a long-distance corridor walk (400 meters divided into 10 laps) was an effective field test method for measuring fitness in 74 women ages 45 to 65.
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 20,000 international, national, and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.
The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.