Walking is not strengthening

yogaA potential client met with me at the gym because she wants to lose 10 pounds, reduce pain, and increase strength. She said she presently strength trains by stretching and walking on the treadmill. I informed her that stretching is great, but it is to be used at the end of a workout to promote flexibility and normal range of motion. Stretching doesn’t make you stronger. I also told her that walking helps with stability, to a point, but it’s not considered a strength-training form of exercise. Walking is low-intensity cardio. She was shocked to learn that walking is a cardiovascular activity that doesn’t make your entire body stronger.

I learned something from her too. Now I know why so many seniors think walking is all the exercise they need to do. Doctors tell their patients to strength train and walk, but they don’t explain that strength training includes using weights, bands, and challenging bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, and lunges.

In our computer age, too many people sit for excessive hours at a time, which causes limited spinal mobility, back pain, shoulder pain, rounded shoulders, postural imbalances, headaches, eye strain, and finger and joint pain. This issues can be addressed with specific exercises that cannot be corrected with a walk or stretches.

If your shoulders are rotated forwards from incorrect posture from sitting or standing, you would need to do upper back and rear shoulder strengthening exercises at least twice a week. Sitting less makes a huge different too. You would also need to strengthen your abs with targeted exercises to protect your low back. Stretches and walking won’t help these problems even though you feel good after doing them.

I encourage walking and stretching, but it’s not enough. Everyone needs to do a minimum of 30 minutes of some sort of cardiovascular exercise each and every day, in addition to a challenging (it just needs to be challenging for you) weight training workout two or more times a week, to prevent injury and pain. Don’t make the excuse that you don’t have time; make time to invest in your health! Aren’t you worth it?

Photo: Me. Yoga is great for balance and flexibility, but it’s not great at strengthening your back, glutes or hamstrings. Lots of people cheat at yoga, so they aren’t getting the full benefits. They may not realize they are cheating; they just don’t have the strength to do a chaturanga push-up, or hold a proper warrior pose. Keep practicing yoga, but add weight training to your workout regimen too.

1 Comments on “Walking is not strengthening”

  1. That’s so true. People jump to intermediate without getting the foundations right. Just like so many people lifting heavy heavy weights without being to able to control their body using simple balance movements.

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