A realistic assessment on cardio for health and physical fitness
Strength Sensei CP

 

It’s no secret I prefer weight training over cardio for fat loss and overall fitness. But other than stating the obvious that any type of exercise is better than no exercise, I have other positive things to say about walking.

First, walking is an ideal exercise for the obese. It’s low impact, which is important as many obese individuals have orthopedic issues that make other forms of training impossible. Although you may see many lean and fit people in an aerobics class, often it’s because the obese participants who tried it quit because of injury. Therefore, walking would be a good preliminary activity before joining many of these aerobic classes.

In Donald Trump’s TV show, The Celebrity Apprentice, Lou “The Incredible Hulk” Ferrigno became a project manager. He was told to design a marketing campaign for a fitness promotion program called “Walk with Walgreens.” Ferrigno gave a presentation where he explained that chronic pain caused him to undergo double knee and hip replacement surgery. He explained that these surgeries required him to learn how to walk again. (As a sidebar, in the “boardroom,” Ferrigno injuries had Trump questioning the value of hardcore bodybuilding, as he had no such injuries.)

High-impact weightlifting exercises are generally not recommended for obese individuals as they often have orthopedic challenges.

 

What about walking on a treadmill? Not a fan. Walking across a motorized track is not a natural motion. Walking (or running) on a moving track reduces the work of the hamstrings and glutes. If performed in excess, such training could cause structural imbalances.

One such imbalance would be chronic tightness in the hip flexor muscles, creating an excessive forward pelvic tilt that increases the stress on the lumbar spine. Such a condition often requires soft tissue work on muscles such as the psoas to restore normal motion (and for this, I recommend the soft tissue treatment technique developed by Dr. Michael Leahy called Active Release Techniques Treatment ®).

The natural progression from walking is jogging. Although its roots dated back to Europe in the 17thcentury, it didn’t become popular in the United States until the early 60s. Making a case for jogging was Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, Inc. In 1966, Bowerman published Jogging, which became a bestseller with over one million copies sold.

Jogging is a transitional activity between walking and running. More specifically, walking is moving slower than four miles per hour, and jogging is moving between four and six miles per hour. However, as you approach four miles per hour and perform a fast walk, you use your arms more aggressively, burning (slightly) more calories. However, I must warn you not to use wrist or ankle weights with fast walking as, over time, their use could result in overuse injuries.

For the obese, jogging may not be a good idea as the feet move less horizontally and more vertically, increasing the stress on the joints. Rather than jogging, a better approach could be to combine walking with running. This is a form of interval training that burns considerably more calories than jogging and even has a small strength training effect. You should perform such training on a running track, as an open field could have depressions or rocks that could cause injuries.

Again, weight training rules. But, for some individuals, it’s OK to “walk the walk!”

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