30 minutes of exercise or 10,000 steps a day – an expert reveals what’s best for you!

Exercise and walking regularly are equally important for your health, and can help you stay fit. No wonder, it’s difficult to choose between the two. An expert helps you out!
exercise versus walking
Find out the winner here. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Aayushi Gupta Updated: 30 Oct 2023, 01:45 pm IST
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There are some fitness freaks who like to go out for morning or evening walks to meet their target of 10,000 steps a day.  On the other hand, there are some who like to work out at the gym for 30 to 45 minutes without fail. But is one better than the other? Or is it necessary to make a choice? Not really. 

To help us understand this better, we have Dr Firdaus Shaikh, P.T, senior orthopedic physiotherapist, AquaCentric Therapy Pvt Ltd. Let’s read what she has to say. 

exercise versus walking
It is hard to choose between exercise and walking. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
This is what you need to know about exercising and walking 10,000 steps regularly

According to the American Heart Association, 150 minutes of exercise a week—a mix of both moderate and high-intensity workouts is recommended to stay fit and healthy. 

In that case, Dr Shaikh tells HealthShots that working out for 30 minutes, five times a week, would help reach the desired medically recommended benchmark.  At the same time, it would help train the body in various ways, by way of low-to-high intensity exercises.

However, if one is short on time, or suffering from an ailment that does not allow moderate-to-high intensity workouts, walking 10,000 steps a day is a good way to stay healthy. 

“What matters is keeping healthy and active, and not leading a sedentary lifestyle,” says Dr Shaikh. 

We all know that regular exercise is good for you, and can also help with weight loss. But how many of you know what 10,000 steps a day can do for you? Well, if you don’t know, read what Dr Shaikh has to say. 

exercise versus walking
Exercising is a great way of muscle building and strength. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Here are the benefits of completing 10,000 steps a day
  1. It is a great way to keep oneself motivated to stay active. The step count acts as an incentive, and instills a sense of achievement, once the ‘10,000 step’ goal is achieved. 
  2. Walking is a form of cardio exercise, which means it helps improve cardiovascular endurance and cardiac health. 
  3. It also helps in keeping your joints healthy, and reduces the risk of developing diseases like arthritis in the long-term. 
  4. A few studies have also claimed that walking outdoors stimulates the brain cells, and helps in improving cognition, concentration and also works as a good way to reduce stress. 
  5. 10000 steps can be at a brisk walking or jogging pace, which can help burn enough calories to lose weight
Can you choose between exercise or 10,000 steps a day? 

Both offer the common benefit of improving cardiovascular endurance, ensuring an active lifestyle and reducing the risk factors of lifestyle diseases.

Walking, however, is a low-to-moderate intensity workout, and is perfect for those whose jobs or lifestyle does not demand heavy work and activity. On the other hand, for someone with a highly active lifestyle, say athletes or hikers, a mix of higher intensity workouts is needed during the week.

Dr Shaikh says, “I would however recommend a mix of both, walking 10,000 steps, two days a week and the rest three days switching up with weight training and other forms of moderate to high-intensity cardio exercises. The sixth day must be for stretches and mobility.” 

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What exercise is equivalent to 10,000 steps?

“Walking 10,000 steps is a form of low-to-moderate intensity cardio exercise.

So, it can be considered equivalent to other forms of low-moderate intensity cardio workouts like cycling (stationary or outdoor), elliptical cross trainer, swimming or aquatic exercises,” says Dr Shaikh. 

She adds, “If we compare walking 100 steps in the pool vs on land, the advantages of pool walking are numerous. It ensures almost minimal to negligible stress on the joints and at the same time helps burn more calories, as the effort to walk in water provides far more resistance to the muscles than walking on land.”

So 10,000 steps or 30 minutes of regular exercise, who wins the big battle of fitness?

Well, no one. It’s a matter of choice and convenience, because both provide common benefits of improving your overall health. In fact, whether you choose to walk or exercise, both can help you burn calories, helping with weight loss. 

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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