Daily Bulletin

Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor

Walking or pedometer challenges such as the yearly Global Corporate Challenge starting tomorrow are a popular way to get large numbers of people moving. While walking has many health benefits, evidence has found the program doesn’t target people who need it, and people swap high-intensity exercise for more steps.

Participants in the Global Corporate Challenge are organised into work teams that compete against other teams to accrue the most steps. During the 16-week challenge, participants receive weekly encouraging emails to keep up their interest. However, because of the costs involved, many workplaces set up their own walking challenges, which is easy enough as you only need pedometers (or other activity-tracking devices) and a spreadsheet to record the daily steps taken.

Reaching the right people?

There are indications these walking challenges, while a good idea, are not getting inactive people to become active. A recent study found 92% of participants were already sufficiently active, according to physical activity guidelines, before the challenge began.

The guidelines state that for good health we should engage in least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (such as playing basketball or running), in addition to muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days each week.

Swapping the run for a walk

There is also anecdotal evidence the intensity of movement is reduced in favour of accumulating more steps. Participants told us they swapped a faster but shorter run or gym session for a longer walk to collect more steps. However, there are benefits to moving at a higher intensity, when the heartbeat increases and we start to huff and puff, especially for heart health.

In one soon-to-be-published study an organisation created its own walking challenge. We measured stair use at the same time, guessing the participants would also use the stairs more. We measured stair use with infra-red monitors before the walking challenge and then again during the challenge.

We were pleased to see an increase in stair use, until we looked at the direction in which the participants had taken the stairs. They were walking down the stairs more but climbing the stairs less than before the walking challenge.

This is a problem because climbing stairs is considered vigorous physical activity, similar in intensity to jogging or playing football. These activities are around eight times the body’s metabolic rate, or the amount of energy the body uses when resting or sleeping, or five to six times more than when sitting. Walking down the stairs, on the other hand, is not much different to walking on a flat surface and expends only twice the energy of when you’re sitting.

So how do you make the most of your walking challenge?

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take part in walking challenges. Walking is a great way to exercise since there is no need for special equipment, clothes or location, it can be done for transport, you often don’t need to take a shower afterwards, it suits most people of all ages, and it can be very social.

Just make sure you’re not cutting out more vigorous exercise in favour of walking. Increase the intensity by walking a little faster than normal. Make a game out of overtaking other pedestrians. Try timing how long it takes to climb the stairs at work, or walk a particulate route and see if you can shave off a few seconds or minutes each week.

Find hillier routes to walk, or find as many stairs to climb as you can along your way. Walk up the escalator, or take the stairs up. Find a person in the crowd and try to get to the top of the stairs before they do. Mix it up by walking backwards to use other sets of muscles.

Many short distances add up. Walk around the workplace, grab a glass of water, or go for a lunchtime walk. This also has the benefit of breaking up prolonged sitting.

If you are not used to walking a lot, ease into it. Starting with shorter distances and build up as you go. Wear comfortable footwear and do make sure you listen to your body: if something hurts, take it easy. It can also be good to warm up your muscles and joints before walking fast and to stretch a little afterwards.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/walking-challenges-arent-doing-you-much-good-if-youre-swapping-running-for-walking-59819

Writers Wanted

Phytonutrients can boost your health. Here are 4 and where to find them (including in your next cup of coffee)


Healthcare, minerals, energy, food: how adopting new tech could drive Australia's economic recovery


Review: new biography shows Vida Goldstein's political campaigns were courageous, her losses prophetic


The Conversation


Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

How To Remove Rubbish More Effectively

It can be a big task to remove household rubbish. The hardest part is finding the best way to get rid of your junk. It can be very overwhelming to know exactly where to start with so many option...

News Company - avatar News Company

4 Tips To Pass Skills Certifications Tests

Developing the right set of skills is valuable not only to your career, but for life in general. You can get certified in these skills through obtaining a license. Without a certified license, y...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Secure Home-Based Entrepreneurs from Cyber Threats

Small businesses are becoming a trend nowadays. The people with entrepreneurial skills and minds are adopting home-based businesses because of their advantage and ease of working from home. But...

News Company - avatar News Company

News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion