As our species evolved over the millenia our main mode of conveyance was walking, hence the body became designed to walk. We are very efficient walking machines, using the simplest of body systems to supply energy to the muscles.
If that energy runs low, energy stored in the liver and muscles is utilised. As long as we drink enough water to remain hydrated long periods of sustained walking can be achieved without being super fit.
Nearly all of us could build up to achieve five miles a day depending on health issues. The human body, like all animals, is designed to store fat to be used when food is less available. In our modern culture where food is available all year around it is easier to gain a few of those pesky pounds rather than stay slim.
Walking does not burn stored fat; it utilises energy from food currently in the system so that very little is then left to turn into fat. To lose fat you would need to have a controlled diet as well as exercise.
Walking is a low intensity, low impact, and long duration exercise, it is termed aerobic (it requires a slight increase in oxygen uptake to achieve).
Jogging is a medium intensity, medium impact, long duration exercise, it is termed aerobic, (it requires a raised oxygen uptake to achieve).
Running is a high intensity, high impact, medium duration exercise it is termed aerobic, (it requires a significant oxygen uptake to achieve).
Sprinting is a very high intensity, high impact, short duration exercise, it is termed anaerobic, (the build up of lactic acid and the supply of energy to the muscles cannot be maintained by oxygen uptake), meaning you quickly run out of steam.
Fitness as a whole is comprised of many elements, eight of which are important to every day life. These 8 factors are:
1 - Strength,
2 - Power,
3 - Agility,
4 - Balance,
5 - Endurance,
6 - Co-ordination,
7 - Cardiovascular Health/Endurance
8 - Flexibility.
Of these numbers 1-7 can be greatly improved by walking, whilst flexibility can be improved, this normally requires specific exercises.
A good analogy for walking, jogging and running is driving a car at different speeds such as: 50mph - (walking), 70mph - (jogging), and 100mph - (running). To go faster you have to accelerate, so at 100 mph the amount of fuel you use is greatly increased. The human body is exactly the same you need to supply energy faster for running compared to walking.
Animals are far more sophisticated than cars; they use four different systems of energy supply, as you increase the rate of energy required you move to the next level. At the third level (the Krebs cycle) you start to burn fats, it requires oxygen (you breathe heavily) and it starts approximately 10 minutes into the run. The levels are:
Level One: Glycolysis or Ketosis if dieting.
Level Two: Pyruvate oxidation.
Level Three: Tricarbolic acid cycle.
Level Four: Respiratory chain.
The bottom line: walking is beneficial in so many different ways!
You will be more efficient, less stressed, have more energy and a better well being. Walking is something nearly all of us do every day, While most other exercises are not as common to every day life they are specific and require specific training programmes to elevate performances.
Walking is used constantly in everyday life, the next time you walk to the store think: You are already training!