Is strength training really THAT good for you? I walk for exercise. Isn’t that enough?
In my profession, I hear of so many people who focus on walking as their primary method of exercise. Am I an advocate? Yes . . . and no. It’s a great form of exercise! If done correctly, it provides stress relief, improves bone density, burns calories, and improves cardiovascular endurance. But what about your muscles? You work your leg muscles when walking, but you NEED formal strength training in the gym!
Our lifestyle today is sedentary. We sit in a car, we sit at work, we sit at home, we SIT too much! The muscles we use to sit (lower back, neck, shoulders) get overworked and tucker out while our core, back extensors, and hip flexors get weak. We then slouch and wonder why our neck and lower back hurts. Once we get used to slouching, that muscle habit continues in everything we do—including our walking. What is the solution? Strength training! When done accurately (good form, correct exercises, and strategic program design) your body will thank you! You will burn lots of calories, your posture will progress, injuries can be minimized, stress will decrease, bone density will increase, and cardiovascular endurance will increase. In addition, self-confidence, muscular strength, balance, core strength, and power will improve.
I believe another reason why many walk as their primary source of exercise is because they don’t know where to begin with strength training. Some information says that you should do strength training for 15 min as hard as possible; some says 60 min is necessary. The unlimited supply of information on the internet via product or gym commercials leads to information overload and confusion: “Should I work my core every day? Are push-ups good for me? Maybe I should buy a BowFlex! I heard squats could be bad for my knees and back. If I do strength training, will I look like a body builder? I keep hearing about Cross Fit. Should I do that?” Strength training can be confusing. I’ve been doing this for over twenty years and I’m still figuring it out.
The encouraging component is that with the right direction, exercise can be simple and safe. There is no need to know it all. Find the right person who listens, understands your body, and is devoted to learning more. When you find that person, hire them and let them help you with your health. If you are still reading, my hope is that you would trust me with this task. Yes, you should become self-educated about fitness, but you also don’t need to know it all. Hire me and I’ll guide, support, educate, and encourage you every step of the way.
So, when you are tempted to replace your strength workout routine in exchange for walking as your primary source of exercise, DON’T! Keep them both as life habits and your body will thank you for it!