Walking is walking, whether you’re window shopping or power walking across a busy airport, right? Recent research suggests that in order to get the most benefit from walking, where you’re going matters more than how you’re walking.
When you walk with a purpose, you’ll get more benefit from walking than if you don’t have a destination. You can get even more of a boost for your cognition and circulation if you’re making a trip on foot from home—and you’ll report that your self-assessed health is better, too!
Researchers from Ohio State University examined data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey which included data on the travel behavior of 125,885 adults. Travel was categorized by either home-based trips or trips that were not home based (home-based work, recreation, and shopping were excursions among the home-based trips).
People walking from home to work can achieve a 6% increase in how they perceive their health which places them in a better health outcome category. Walking from home to other destinations increases this self-health assessment by 3%.
Having a mental focus on reaching a destination can make you walk faster, with walking to work from home averaging 2.69 miles per hour and walking towards a recreational activity at 2.55 miles per hour. It’s an easy way to notch up the speed and intensity of a walk without a pedometer if you can choose to walk with a particular purpose, especially if it starts off at the front door of your home.
Pae, Gislu, and Gulsah Akar. “Effects of Walking on Self-Assessed Health Status: Links between Walking, Trip Purposes and Health.” Journal of Transport and Health, Sept. 2020, doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jth.2020.100901.