Does a walk train both endurance and exercise?

Since the start of the pandemic, walking as a hobby has risen in quality. In times of lockdowns, curfews and the like, walking gave many a sense of freedom and the exercise they needed. But what about the sporty aspect? Does a walk also train endurance? FITBOOK features sports physician Dr. Paul Schmidt-Hellinger asked.

A leisurely “walk” seems to be a sensible alternative, especially for people who are reluctant to jog or cannot do so for health reasons. But does walking train endurance as well as a “real” sport?

A study demonstrates the health benefits of walking

A study published in the specialized journal PLoS One attributes a large number of positive effects to walking. Body weight, fat mass, and body fat percentage should decrease through regular walking. This effect was found in 68 employees who were primarily sedentary. The subjects were divided into three groups. The first group took short walks several times a day, the second group took one long walk a day, and the third group served as a control. Regardless of whether the walk was broken up into several smaller “walks” or done in one piece: the positive effects were similar.1 But how does walking affect endurance? Can it replace normal sport?

Also interesting: 11 reasons why you should start the day with a walk

The sports doctor welcomes the new hobby to the march

Whether in the park or in the woods, alone or with a partner: A walk was obviously good for us, not only during the Corona crisis, and many people now use this beneficial form of exercise as a substitute for sport, also to increase the resistance. . A trend that Dr. Paul Schmidt-Hellinger, sports doctor at the Charité, observed and described as very positive.

FITBOOK has reported on the health benefits of the famous 10,000 steps a day (corresponds to 6.5 kilometers with an average step of 65 centimeters). It’s about longer distances. What are the health benefits of walking ten kilometers or more? How do they compare to jogging? To what extent can you improve your endurance with it? Should you pay attention to your walking speed? Does a walk train both endurance and exercise? And at the end of life, is it perhaps even better to have been an avid hiker than a competitive athlete?

Beach Camp Frame 1

walking and endurance

FITBOOK: Can long walks improve endurance?
dr Paul Schmidt-Hellinger: “That depends. When walking at a sport pace (6 kilometers per hour), the load on the cardiovascular system is usually less than 50 percent of maximum capacity. Endurance improves 60 to 70 percent. If you are an athlete, a walk won’t have any training effect.But if you’re very overweight or haven’t exercised for 20 years, you may only have half the stamina of a fit runner, and then the effect of training on stamina is there. For these people, going for a walk is ideal!”

Also interesting: study finds simple way to increase fitness level

Apart from the psychological added value: To what extent do sporty or very sporty people benefit from long walks?
Schmidt Hellinger: “They reduce their susceptibility to injury and can be happy with their calorie intake. It’s actually not that low! For example, a one-hour walk burns as many calories as a 20-minute run, about 200 calories. As a general rule of thumb, a third of the calories consumed are burned by running. By walking, these calories are more likely to be burned through fat metabolism and train you. In a 10K timed race, on the other hand, you burn mostly sugar. That’s why walking doesn’t necessarily improve your best 10k time.”

Can athletes compensate for training loss by increasing strength with bodyweight exercises at home and walking as a supplement?
Schmidt Hellinger: “Yes, but then you have to be careful to get into a high heart rate range when exercising at home. My advice: squats, hold your breath in extreme cases!”


Walkers versus competitive athletes

years at an absolutely high level of performance – or the one who has walked continuously throughout his life?
Schmidt Hellinger: “At the end of life, contingency prevails. (Regularity, editor’s note) everything that concerns the effect of training. For example, someone who ran fast in a year will not benefit as much in old age as someone who has done moderate sports all her life, and that includes regular walks. This person may not be particularly capable, but they have a good baseline and, at 90, are likely to be fitter than a former competitive athlete who has depleted their reserves and is left with just the mindset of an athlete. when you want to start training again. .”

How many kilometers per day would be ideal?
Schmidt Hellinger: “The human anatomy is designed to walk 15 kilometers a day. So that would be ideal. By the way, city dwellers tend to walk more than rural people. It has been estimated that the average New Yorker walks an average of five to ten kilometers a day. He has to do with the big train stations.”

Walking speed? No matter!

What walking speed is ideal?
Schmidt Hellinger: “Walking should have more to do with mindfulness (Focus on the moment, editor’s note) go that clock. You should go at the pace that suits you best and go as long as you feel like it. Then you automatically get into a state where you feel fit and balanced.”

Also interesting: 6 exercises to be really fit while walking

How can you motivate yourself to go for a walk?
Schmidt Hellinger: “For example, it encourages me to see how far I can go. Then it hits me: Wow, I’ve never been this far from home! That impulse is in us, I think. You can ZB also plan to go to the city limits.”

dr  Paul Schmidt-Hellinger is a physician and athlete.
dr Paul Schmidt-Hellinger is a physician and marathon runnerPhoto: private

dr Paul Schmidt-Hellinger (34) is a doctor, he is successful in the marathon distance and loves long walks. Because the athlete recently underwent surgery, he is currently unable to cover long distances. At the weekend he still managed 12,000 steps (Saturday) and 4,000 steps on Sunday, complemented by 30 kilometers of cycling and a visit to his own sauna in the garden.


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