What is fitness walking? Is there a specific ‘right way’ to do it? Is it beneficial? Can ‘anyone’ do it? Where can it be done? Bi-pedalism (walking) is a basic function that most people have the capacity to do. It is a basic way to maintain the health of the body. It is the capacity to go here and there and allows the hands to be free to manipulate the environment. Walking, once learned, is an activity that CAN accompany one throughout their life.
Fitness walking is defined as ‘the aerobic sport of brisk, rhythmic, vigorous walking, intended to improve cardiovascular efficiency, strengthen the heart, control weight gain, and reduce stress. This is a narrow definition. It implies that there is a (one) specific manner by which walking conveys fitness. The definition does lay down some valid components of walking to get fit. However, there is hiking, and variations thereof, as a modality for fitness, wellness and health.
Hiking at high altitudes is an awesome modality for fitness. This method is not to be taken lightly. One must train ‘beforehand’ in lieu of going on such a hike. As you ascend above 5,000 feet (or 2,000 meters) above sea level, lower atmospheric pressure makes it more difficult for your body to absorb the amount of oxygen that it’s normally accustomed to. To counteract this, your body starts changing right away. Studies show that the body begins to adapt as early as a day after arrival at a high altitude destination.
What happens is that your blood’s hemoglobin cells hang onto their oxygen load more tightly, making it more efficient for them to deliver oxygen to all of your body’s cells. Because red blood cells have a median life in the bloodstream of 120 days, the positive effects of this amped up hemoglobin remain in your body for months after you’ve left your high altitude destination.
 Journal of Proteome Research Oct. 2016 (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jproteome.6b00733 )
Science Magazine, Oct. 2016 (http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/10/two-weeks-mountains-can-change-your-blood-months)
More than likely, one will be hiking with a backpack. However, the benefits of hiking with a backpack (rucksacking) can be obtained with being in higher altitudes. When you walk with some extra weight on your body you increase the resistance your body needs to endure which forces your leg muscle and back work harder. For the extra resistance, your lungs breathe in more oxygen and your heart pumps more blood. This deepens your breath and burns way more calories and thus opens up a new whole world of fitness! This is something that anyone can do around their neighborhood or at the local park.
Walking, on a basic level, affect the body on physical, physiological and fitness levels – Burns Calories, Strengthens the heart, lowers blood sugar, Eases Joint pain, boosts immune function, boosts energy, improves mood, extends life, tones legs, induces clear thinking. Walking with a weighted pack augments the benefits that come from walking – Increases bone density, increases musculo-pulmono-cardiac workload, burns more calories, improves posture.
Use of the hands is not related to fitness, per se, but more to survival. So, walking with a club, spear or sword in hand makes hunting, defense, or marauding easier. Walking to or from a situation with tool of choice in hand was a source of purpose behind walking. One would walk to where they needed or wanted to be and could then do things to positively affect the environment. More modern examples of this would be doing yardwork and carry soil or plants to an area using a wheelbarrow, carrying tools and equipment to an area to build a fence or lugging bags of groceries to and from a vehicle.
This walking affects the body’s energy flow. From the birth movements of squirming to the steps of one’s final days, it is necessary to move. Walking is part of human life from birth to death. Without walking, the body begins to slow down. The bodily structures begin to lose their pliability, flexibility and muscularity without movement. My opinion is that any walking is fitness walking. There are other modes that can be accessed through walking. At its’ basic level, walking is walking.
Get moving for fitness and health. For advice, assistance, training, contact, in North Austin, TX, Ab-Sutra Wellness and Fitness