I have been an athlete and personal trainer for over three decades, and during that time, I have focused on intense workouts to improve fitness and strength. However, I have also recognized the importance of incorporating walking into my routine. Walking has always been a part of my daily life, whether it’s for transportation or leisurely hikes on the weekends. As a dog owner, I also make sure to walk my energetic furry friends to keep them happy and healthy. But what happens when you take walking more seriously, like aiming for 10,000 steps a day for an entire year? In this article, I will share the effects, benefits, and lessons I learned from walking 10,000 steps every day for 12 months.
Most articles about walking focus on shorter periods, such as seven or 30 days, but I wanted to explore the effects of long-term walking. While these shorter periods can be interesting, they don’t provide enough time to see significant positive effects. Therefore, I decided to document the effects and benefits of walking 10,000 steps for a full year. It’s important to note that these are my personal experiences, and individual responses may vary.
One significant benefit I noticed was effortless weight loss. Walking is a low-intensity activity that burns more calories than sitting. On average, a person can burn an extra 300-400 calories a day by walking 10,000 steps. While this may not seem like much, it adds up over a year. I personally lost several pounds and a significant amount of body fat without making any other changes to my diet or workouts. The amount of weight loss from walking 10,000 steps varies for each individual, but based on the premise that a pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, and you burn 350 extra calories each day by walking, it’s possible to lose 36 or more pounds in 12 months. Of course, individual results also depend on diet and overall lifestyle. Nevertheless, studies suggest that walking 10,000 steps per day can be an effective weight loss aid.
Another positive effect I experienced was a decreased resting heart rate. As someone who has always prioritized cardio in my training regimen, my resting heart rate has consistently been relatively low. However, after a year of walking 10,000 steps every day, my resting heart rate dropped even further, hovering between 45-50 beats per minute. A lower resting heart rate indicates better cardiovascular fitness, as it suggests that the heart can pump more blood per beat, indicating increased strength and efficiency.
Walking also had a positive impact on my blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for various illnesses, including heart and kidney disease. Walking 10,000 steps per day for a year resulted in a slight decrease in my diastolic and systolic blood pressure readings. This is a common benefit supported by numerous studies. While my blood pressure has never been high, seeing a decrease at a time when blood pressure typically increases is encouraging.
Additionally, walking helped me recover faster from lower body workouts. Despite being in my 50s, I still enjoy intense workouts, and walking seemed to alleviate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and expedite my recovery between sessions. This may be due to increased blood flow, which aids in the removal of metabolic waste products from the muscles. Regardless of the exact cause, I appreciate experiencing shorter and less severe bouts of DOMS.
Contrary to what some may believe, walking can actually improve cardiovascular fitness. Brisk walking raises the heart and breathing rate, leading to adaptations in the cardiovascular system. Brisk walking falls under zone two cardio, which enhances basic cardiovascular fitness by strengthening the heart and lungs, improving oxygen-carrying capacity in the blood, and increasing capillarization. Capillaries are tiny vessels that deliver oxygenated blood to the muscles and remove waste products. While there is a limit to the number of cardio workouts one can do per week, walking can always be added to the schedule to further improve fitness.
Furthermore, walking has improved my posture. Like many people, I spend a significant amount of time sitting, which can lead to poor posture and its associated issues. Walking helps stretch the muscles that become tight from prolonged sitting and helps correct the adverse effects of poor posture.
In conclusion, walking 10,000 steps every day for a year has had numerous positive effects on my health and fitness. I experienced effortless weight loss, a lower resting heart rate, improved blood pressure readings, faster recovery from workouts, enhanced cardiovascular fitness, and improved posture. Walking is a simple yet effective way to improve overall well-being. Whether it’s for weight loss, cardiovascular health, or posture improvement, incorporating regular walking into your routine can yield significant benefits.