Walking fast without stopping can definitely get your heart rate up, as long as you keep going. It is a great way to feel better and get creative or have a discussion, too. Walking has exercise benefits without some of the side effects and effort of more strenuous workouts.
Walking is easier on the joints and can be done nearly anywhere, anytime!
Walking is great for strenuous exercisers, too, because walking is a great exercise for active rest to be used as a training method on so-called “off days” for heavy exercise trainers.
Human walking is accomplished with a strategy called the double pendulum. During forward motion, the leg that leaves the ground swings forward from the hip. This sweep is the first pendulum. Then the leg strikes the ground with the heel and rolls through to the toe in a motion described as an inverted pendulum, which moves the body weight forward. The motion of the two legs is coordinated so that one foot or the other is always in contact with the ground. The process of walking recovers approximately sixty per cent of the energy used due to pendulum dynamics and ground reaction force.
The biomechanist Gracovetsky argues that the spine is the major agent in human locomotion. He bases his conclusions on the case of a man born without legs. The man was able to walk albeit slowly on his pelvis. Gracovetsky claims that however important to well-being, the function of legs is secondary in a strictly mechanical sense. Legs enable the spine to harvest the energy of gravity in an efficient manner. The legs act as long levers that transfer ground reaction force to the spine.
Lumbar motion during walking consists mostly of sideways rotation. Gracovetsky observes that fish use the same lateral motion to swim. He believes the mechanism first evolved in fish and was later adapted by amphibians, reptiles, mammals and humans to their respective modes of locomotion.
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Hardy SE, Perera S, Roumani YF, Chandler JM, Studenski SA. Improvement in usual gait speed predicts better survival in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007 Nov;55(11):1727-34. Epub 2007 Oct 3.
Levine JA, McCrady SK, Lanningham-Foster LM, Kane PH, Foster RC, Manohar CU. The role of free-living daily walking in human weight-gain and obesity. Diabetes. 2007 Nov 14; [Epub ahead of print].
Gracovetsky SA, Iacono S. Energy transfers in the spinal engine. J Biomed Eng. 1987 Apr;9(2):99-114.