Walking is Not Exercise

By Tash Weddle

A few weeks ago I was giving a presentation to a group regarding the best way to exercise.  I think I may have ruffled some feathers when I mentioned that walking does not count as exercise. “Whoa, wait a minute! Aren’t we supposed to walk at least 10,000 steps a day?” Yes, walking is something our bodies are designed to do, a lot of and often. It’s what we should be doing every day, like eating and sleeping, which is why it’s considered an activity, not exercise. 

Walking does not prevent loss of muscle mass

Walking is great and you should be getting those steps in, but it’s not enough to prevent the metabolic decline and loss of muscle mass that happens with age. Research shows that, on average, folks experience a 2–4% decline in their resting metabolic rate with each passing decade after the age of 25. Add to this metabolic decline a 5 pound loss of muscle with every decade and you see why it’s so critical that we do everything we can to maintain our precious muscle.   

Intense exercise is the best investment of your time

When it comes to preserving muscle mass and metabolism, intense exercise is a must and strength training is the absolute best investment of your time. Strength training should make up the bulk of your training, then add in some interval training via bike sprints, rowing, kettlebell swings, prowler pushes, etc. You know, the fun stuff we do at the end of your workout? Increasing muscle mass will increase your metabolism and anything that gets your heart rate up will help you burn fat throughout the day, long after you’ve finished your workout, both benefits you won’t get from low-intensity exercise. 

How much should I exercise?

A question I hear often is, “How much should I exercise?” Well, the government has set a baseline of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise plus two or more days of strength training. Keep in mind, this is the minimum amount of exercise you should be getting each week. However, if you want to see real benefits, then you’ll need to get closer to 300 minutes a week, five hours. Not all five hours need to be intense, but there is a minimum dose that’s required.

Ideally, your five hours would include:

  • Three hours of strength training
  • 40-60 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise
  • One hour or two of brisk walking or hiking each week

If you can only afford three hours a week, then I suggest you devote most of it to strength training with some intervals thrown in at the end of each session. Unfortunately, one strength training session a week just isn’t enough to make significant progress.

Many people, our clients included, think that hitting the gym twice a week is enough. Twice a week is far better than nothing, but the women who train three times a week make much more progress. If you would like to add an extra session to your membership, just let us know. Our training three times a week option is an incredible value. You can also come to a group class or two each week (if you’ve cleared your major red lights from your FMS). Remember, group classes are included in your personalized training membership and we would love to see more of you take advantage of this. 

So, walking is awesome, but intense exercise, especially strength training is a requirement if you want to stay strong, age well and be among the 25% of Americans who are not overweight or obese.
— Tash Weddle