It's medically proven: practising a physical activity regularly keeps you fit. Among the "fitness sports", active walking is one whose benefits are felt once an endurance level is reached. This physiological phenomenon is linked to your average walking speed!
The "health" benefits of active walking practised at endurance level
Each sports person has their own personal motivation! Some practise active walking to lose weight, others to reduce their stress levels or simply to get out of the daily routine or for the pleasure of it.
But all active walkers contribute, without knowing it, to improving their own health!
As Charles Aisenberg, sports consultant affiliated with the National Institute for Sport, Expertise and Performance reveals, active walking does us good on several levels:
"Practising a sports activity protects us from the high blood pressure and excess weight that are precursors to cardiovascular illnesses.It also strengthens immunity and helps to fight against osteoporosis".
These many benefits are increased further when you practice endurance level active walking, that is longer than 30 minutes of effort.
Endurance or resistance sport: distinct effects upon health
Charles Aisenberg distinguishes between the effects of endurance sports and those of resistance sports. What are the differences?
Endurance: your cardiac effort is sustained over a long period. When you practise 45 minutes of active walking, you give your body a regular oxygen boost. This effort works your heart and clears your arteries. Better still, it also uses fats to fuel your muscles and helps you to endure for longer.
Resistance: your cardiac effort is short and strenuous. When you run 400 metres for example, you are more or less working without the aid of your breathing, without this enabling oxygen boost that active walking gives you.
You will notice: To improve your health, ideally you need to practice an endurance sport regularly. Active walking, this gentle sport which is non-strenuous for your joints, has all the benefits of long-distance running without its drawbacks.
Endurance or resistance: Which one should be worked during active walking?
To know whether you are working endurance or resistance when you are walking, observe your heart rate. "More specifically, the percentage of your maximal cardiac frequency (MCF) during exercise" adds Charles Aisenberg.
- Endurance training begins at between 60 and 75 % of your MCF
- Resistance training begins at between 75 and 95 % of your MCF
During your endurance sessions, optimise your training by splitting it (add some resistance training) to combine the benefits of these two types of exercise. You will appreciate the short and long term effects of active walking on your body. This should help you to stay motivated, in all seasons!