Walking May Make You Thinner, But Will It Also Make You Stronger? — Health Check
In recent years, health advocacy groups have recommended walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day to stay fit.
And although all that pavement-pounding does help keep your weight down, researchers have found it doesn't make people stronger or improve their balance and agility.
Professor Mylène Aubertin-Leheudre at the University of Quebec in Montreal and her colleagues tracked the walking habits of 57 women between 50 and 70 years old, splitting them into three groups: low activity women who walked fewer than 7,500 steps a day, a medium activity group that walked between 7,500 and 10,000 daily steps, and high activity ladies who logged more than 10,000 strides each day.
The researchers later found the highest activity group had an average body mass index (BMI) of 25, which is considered normal weight, while the other two groups had BMI numbers in the overweight range. But what was surprising was that muscle strength, the percentage of body muscle mass, and balance and physical ability were consistent across the three groups.
Aubertin-Leheudre said she had expected to see women who walked more perform better on these tests because inactivity is known to weaken muscles, concluding that "maybe we don't walk the way we need to walk" to see those benefits.
That said, Catrine Tudor-Locke, a professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, feels if researchers had compared truly sedentary women -- those who walk fewer than 3,000 steps per day -- to the super walkers, they probably would've seen a difference.
"This tells me more is better in terms of body composition and fitness," she said. But when it comes to overall muscle strength, she feels you may "get the biggest bang for your buck in the lower end (of activity)."