There can be a lot of advice for people new to working out as to what they should do any why. This can lead to confusion about the appropriate course you should start on when undertaking a new health and fitness plan or even returning from a long layoff.
Of course this is another one of those types of advice column where we try and explain why what we think is the best. For this topic we looked at a number of factors including cost, ease-of-use, scheduling, and difficulty. Those are typical benchmark questions for just about anything most of us do so it seemed like reasonable markers in determining the best cardio for beginners.
The winner is…walking!
Pros of Walking
- Simple – Walking is very easy for anyone of any level to do. It is the most recommended activity by doctors because of the low impact nature and how easy it is to control your pace.
- Cost – Basically walking is free. You just step outside and get going. Ideally you should get a nice pair of running shoes which will help prevent discomfort in the feet and knees. Why not walking shoes? I think running shoes make a better choice because ideally you will work towards jogging after awhile (which is a superior workout) after you build up your basic cardiovascular system. Shorts, sweats, t-shirt, and a sweatshirt are all reasonable walking attire but some people even just walk in jeans.
- Scheduling – You can virtually walk whenever and wherever. It is the type of activity that translates to vacations and work trips very easily and unlike some gyms, never closes. The only exceptions would be severe weather conditions or in the dark if you prefer daylight.
- Difficulty – Walking can be very easy or you can make it very hard. You can easily start with an easy pace and over a few sessions work up to a faster rate. The distance can vary based on your energy and drive. For more difficult workouts you can include walking hills and trails as well as flat ground.
- Enjoyment – A lot of people enjoy walking because you can do it outdoors, enjoy scenery, and also bring a friend. It is usually easy to maintain a conversation while walking which makes it somewhat social. It can also be fairly easy to find a walking partner. As you can enjoy walking on the beach or at parks as well as near your house the route can change for a lot of variety.
For all the above reasons walking is the best cardio activity for beginners. After you have built up some stamina and increased your cardio fitness level then it is a good idea to branch out to something more strenuous such as running or cycling. Or, you could stick with walking if you enjoy it and it is getting the job done. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.