We might deceive ourselves and think that 10,000 steps per day is as beneficial as a proper gym session, but it isn’t: the latter is 3 times more effective on our overall fitness
A study conducted at the Boston University School of Medicine on 2,070 people by cardiologist and professor Matthew Nayor and his team (and published on the European Heart Journal) was aimed at answering these precise kinds of question. What dynamics are there between a person’s fitness level and the intensity of the exercise they usually practice?
Challenging exercise sessions were associated with good fitness levels even in cases where the sedentary time of the subject was considerable. This is to say that many effects inactivity has on our organism might be easily defeated by proper workout, regardless of how significant this sedentary time is. That seems to happen also in the long term: participants to the study who used to practice intense exercise even a long time before (up to eight years) – and who then reduced this intensity – were still able to hold a good fitness level (thanks to a “memory effect” of the body).
A proper gym session gives the best fitness outcomes
However beneficial and healthy walking is, its effect can’t hold a candle to a proper gym session, especially if your goal is to achieve an enviable fitness condition: actual exercise happens to be 3 times more beneficial than walking at a low cadence—low cadence has been defined as 60-99 steps/minute, moderate as 100-129 steps/minute and intense as more than 130 steps/minute.
Often, the least tiring option is to repeat the same movement – such as walking or running – but our body perceives this and adapts to it, so we will start consuming less and less energy. Trying shorter, high-intensity circuits instead allows you to get a continuous stimulation, involving more muscle groups and, above all, stimulating the neuro-muscular system. This allows greater energy consumption, with an increase in both vascular and trophic levels.
Milder forms of exercise are obviously recommended for people with pre-existing medical conditions or older people, who might not be able to endure more vigorous training sessions. For all others, especially younger individuals and those seeking to fight ageing, intense workout and regular visits to the gym are the best medicine.