Are you looking for an exercise that provides the optimal health benefits? You may be surprised, it’s not aerobics, it’s not high-intensity fitness training. You will be shocked when you learn what exercise provides the best health benefits. You don’t need any special equipment and you do it every day. The best exercise is walking.
Obviously, if you walk for 30 minutes, it’s not going to burn as many calories as 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). But here’s a crazy concept: Maybe, if we’re looking for optimal health benefits, we shouldn’t be focusing on calorie burn.
Walking won’t necessarily make you lose more weight than HIIT — we can’t promise that. But it is actually a way healthier option. I’m telling you this as someone who engages in high-intensity exercise on most days. I don’t do HIIT for the health of it; I don’t do it for the calorie burn or the weight loss. I do it because I love it — but here’s why it’s probably not the best thing for me.
Benefits of Walking
Regardless of the danger of overtraining, many people simply don’t enjoy exercise in any capacity. It’s difficult — and if you don’t have a true passion for it, it can become miserable to drag yourself to the gym day after day to trudge through a grueling workout. The best exercise regimen — and the only kind that’s proven to actually work over time — is one you enjoy.
The science is pretty clear about exercise: Similar health benefits (measured by disease prevention and longevity) result from any amount of exercise that exceeds 150 minutes of low-intensity activity each week.
So if you enjoy going for an evening stroll — maybe alone, maybe with your pet, or maybe with some podcasts — you’re reaping the same health benefits you would if you engaged in high-intensity exercise. The difference is that you would avoid all those very real dangers of intense workouts.
My takeaway for you? Walking is healthier because it’s less risky and, for many people, it’s more fun. If you’re exercising for the health of it, stick with the only principle that’s bound to hold up for the long term: Any kind of movement you look forward to doing is the kind you should do.