Walking, as a way of increasing overall health and wellness, is an undervalued activity. Of course, you know all about “getting in your steps,” Fitbit, step counters, and apps that encourage you to walk more, but unfortunately, there are gay guys who are not using these tools. Stereotypes claim that homosexual males are more fit than other demographics, with a portion even being underweight. However, this has been proven by many studies that track sexual orientation and body mass.
This information is excellent to read, but it does leave those gay males who are not as fit or are having issues losing weight with few resources because they are assumed not to exist. Our community has a problem with “fatphobia,” but shaming and shunning our brothers is not a good look.
The great thing about walking is that all of us who can do it, do it every day. This essential activity also has many benefits beyond just weight loss/control. Walking more should be on your to-do list if you want to improve your overall physical and mental health.
A study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that walking for three to four hours per week reduced cardiovascular mortality by half – a separate study showed that moderate exercise might be more efficient for clearing harmful fat deposits than more intense workouts.
More and more research points to the dangers of long periods of unbroken sitting. ‘Being sedentary is an independent risk factor for heart disease,’ explains Dr. Clara Russell, a GP and founder of brain health specialists Noggin. ‘Any way you can incorporate movement into your daily routine will help.’
Steps vs. Time
When thinking about your walking routine, the number of steps you take to achieve your goal should be one of your considerations. But, studies keep changing the number you should take for better health. We have seen rates as high as 10,000 per day to as little as 4,000, depending on the year of publication. For this article, we are relying on research published in 2011, which states that the average healthy adult tends to do 4,000–18,000 steps per day and that 10,000 steps per day is a reasonable target for healthy adults.
The following categories may help you assess your activity levels:
|Activity level||Steps per day|
|Very active||over 12,500|
One study found that getting at least 15,000 steps per day is correlated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, which often includes obesity.
However, getting to 10,000 stepsTrusted Source may also help you lose weight and improve your mood.
Certified personal trainer Esther Avant suggests setting a goal 500–1,000 steps higher than your current average and working on maintaining this slight increase for 1–2 weeks or until you feel comfortable with the rise.
Next, increase and repeat the process until you’re meeting your target steps, which may be 10,000 steps daily.
If your current step count is under 5,000, you may want to add 250–500 steps daily. In the first week, focus on increasing your step count by 250 every 1–2 days.
Next, start adding 500 steps per day until you consistently reach your target. You can then stay at this level or add steps daily to move your step count into a more active category.
According to Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, walking “certainly can” help with weight loss.
Suppose you are using walking as a tool to help you lose weight. In that case, Bryant recommends walking for 45 to 60 minutes per day most days of the week — about 15 to 30 minutes more than the basic guideline for general health and wellbeing, which is 30 minutes of activity a day most days a week.
“The thing to understand is that it doesn’t have to be all in one walking session; you can break it up through the course of that day,” Bryant explains, adding that he advises breaking up those walks into two or three large chunks.
Speed of motion must also be included in your fitness plan after calculating your desired steps and walking time.
Several studies have shown that walking faster is better for you and your long-term health. One 2006 study published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the faster a person walks on average, the lower their risk of all-cause mortality and death linked to heart disease.
More recently, a 2021 study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention looked at more than 200,000 cancer survivors between the ages of 50 and 71 and found that those who walked at the slowest pace had more than double the risk of death from any cause, compared with those reporting the fastest walking pace.
How fast is fast enough? Per a 2019 study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the optimal speed you should aim for is walking at least 4 miles per hour (mph). When it comes to the benefits of walking, slow and steady does not win the race.
Many benefits of walking depend on your goals and the time and speed you spend on your feet. The following are the ones most will achieve from walking, on average, about a half-hour most days of the week.
Burn calories for weight loss/control:
Some research shows that for every 1,000 daily steps you take, you could lower your systolic blood pressure by .45 points. One of the most cited studies on walking and health, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that those who walked enough to meet physical activity guidelines had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular events (like a heart attack or stroke) compared with those who did not walk regularly. Another study found that, especially for older adults, every 500 additional steps taken daily was associated with a 14% lower risk of heart disease, stroke, or heart failure.
Reduce the risk of disease:
A 2022 study published in Nature Medicine has shown that walking can reduce your risk for various chronic diseases. One study showed that walking 8,200 steps effectively reduced the risk of chronic conditions, including obesity, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), major depressive disorder (MDD), diabetes, and hypertension. The same study also found that walking even more steps increases walking’s benefits for nearly every health condition studied.
A 2018 study published in Health Promotion Perspectives showed that just 10 minutes of walking lowers anxiety and depression and increases focus and creativity. A 2022 study published in Molecular Psychiatry found that a 60-minute walk in nature decreases activity in brain regions involved in stress processing. In contrast, brain activity in those regions remained stable after a 60-minute walk in an urban environment.
Research shows that regular walking modifies your nervous system so much that you’ll experience decreased anger and hostility. Research shows that just 10 minutes of walking can lift your spirits.
Improve Sleep: A recent study found healthy adults who walked daily had a significant positive impact on sleep quality and length of sleep. Walking also helps reduce pain and stress, which can cause sleep disturbances.
In one study, brain scans of people who walked briskly for one hour three times a week showed the decision-making areas of their brains worked more efficiently than people who attended education seminars instead.
Alleviate Joint Pain:
Research shows that walking for at least 10 minutes a day—or about an hour every week—can stave off disability and arthritis pain in older adults. A 2019 American Journal of Preventive Medicine study followed 1,564 adults older than 49 with lower-body joint pain. Participants who walked for an hour each week were likelier to remain disability-free four years later. An additional report found that walking was a safe, inexpensive, and convenient physical activity for those with arthritis of all fitness levels.
Walking utilizes core and abdominal muscles, encouraging movement in our GI system.
Kick Start your Immune System:
Research shows that moderate-intensity exercise—and walking in particular—ramps up our immune system. It increases the number of immune cells that attack pathogens in our body, which lowers your risk of becoming seriously ill from infectious diseases. Not only that, if you do get sick, research has found that people who walk more spend less time in the hospital.
Protects Bone Health:
As researched by The Mayo Clinic, walking works directly on the bones in your legs, hips, and lower spine to slow density loss.
According to a 2014 Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition study, going for a walk can spark creativity. “Researchers administered creative-thinking tests to subjects while seated and while walking and found that the walkers thought more creatively than the sitters.”
Make other Goals More Attainable:
Recent research found that of nearly 5,000 adults interviewed, those who walked regularly had higher health perceptions and were more likely to have better mental health.
One study found that people who did just 10 to 59 minutes of moderate exercise (like brisk walking) per week had an 18% lower risk of death during the study period than those who were inactive. Meanwhile, people who completed the recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise in at least 10-minute spurts had a 31% lower risk of death. Other research shows the faster you walk, the more your risk drops.
Counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes:
Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes contribute to body weight. They then discovered that the effects of those genes were cut in half among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day.
Helps tame a sweet tooth:
A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb chocolate cravings and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of various sugary snacks.
Because walking is not just a form of exercise but also a mode of transportation, it requires no new skill sets, equipment, or gym membership. It can be done inside your home just as much as outside, in the city or countryside. For most guys, the issue is time and motivation.
Set a routine and route
Monitor your speed, time, and steps
Watch your form (heel-toe motions)
Make a schedule
Listen to music
Get a walking buddy
Try walking inside using Youtube Walking tour videos
Remember to stay hydrated
For more challenging workouts:
Walk up and down hills
increase time and distance
Use leg weights
Before you go…
Before starting any new exercise routine, check your health and fitness with your doctor. Walking can be easily integrated into any level of health or age as long as you remember to work with your body and not against it. Do not attempt to over-tax your body or work beyond your current fitness level. Most of all, try to make this new activity fun for yourself and not a punishment.