Walking vs Yoga – Which one is better for you?

You’re on the right track researching options for improving your fitness. One of the most difficult decisions to begin or continuing your fitness journey is deciding on a form of exercise. Here we outline the benefits and make a recommendation for whether you should choose Yoga or Walk. 

The great thing about Yoga is that it is a very low-impact form of exercise so perfect for all age groups and fitness levels. The same can be said for walking, it’s accessible to the majority of people and it is a great pillar for leading an active and healthy lifestyle. 

Benefits of Yoga 

Helps reduce stress and anxiety 

Yoga is as much a workout for the mind as it is for the body. It is great at alleviating stress. Once you step on the mat you can leave everything else that is happening in your life to the side and just spend an hour or 45 minutes focusing on your practice.  

Harvard medical publishing has outlined that Yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. 

“Available reviews of a wide range of yoga practices suggest they can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression. In this respect, yoga functions like other self-soothing techniques, such as meditation, relaxation, exercise, or even socializing with friends.”

The second you start a practice or enter the practice place you should be concentrating on your breath and the practice ahead. Throughout the flow of the class, your teacher or yourself if you’re practicing at home should be honing your attention to the class and leaving whatever is happening in your life off the mat.   

Improves flexibility and balance 

Yoga is a gradual process and when you’re practicing it’s really important that you don’t overextend yourself to reach in that stretch or push yourself too hard.  We suggest that initially, you attend a few classes with a yoga instructor.  By doing this you will learn the correct alignment and postures for a range of poses. Although you can start online with videos and tutorials there is no substitute for hands-on adjustment by a certified professional. By attending a class you will ensure that when you practice on your own you are doing so safely. 

Once you have the basics down and start practicing you will gradually improve your flexibility and balance by holding poses and deepening stretches. You’ll be amazed at the improvement in your range of motion after a few weeks of consistent practice. Typical yoga practice includes a number of poses that will target various areas of the body.  If there is a specific area that you would like to improve your flexibility or mobility, be sure to ask your yoga instructor for poses to specifically target these problem areas. 

A Great Workout 

Yoga is a great total body workout. You will work and develop muscles you never even knew you had. Although, on first look, Yoga may not look too difficult you will be surprised at how tough it can be holding poses for long periods of time.

The great thing about Yoga is that you can make the class or practice be whatever you want it to be. If your body is aching and you have low energy then your practice can go at a slower pace.  There are always alternatives to poses that make them a little more accessible when your body doesn’t feel up to it. Yoga classes also don’t have the same sort of high tempo macho vibes as a lot of other group fitness classes, so the instructors are very rarely pushy and overly motivational.  

Yoga can help with arthritis 

Gentle yoga is the perfect style of yoga for beginners who want to ease themselves into this form of exercise.  Perfect for seniors or people wanting to start with a lower intensity style of Yoga.  Gentle Yoga specifically has been proven to help people that suffer from arthritis. Per John Hopkins University there have been 11 recent studies that have highlighted the benefits of Yoga with people that have arthritis. 

Very easy to start and minimal equipment needed 

Yoga has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years and this has resulted in Yoga studios and online classes being a lot more accessible in today’s world. Studios also tend to offer really good intro offers to get you trying Yoga as a form of exercise.  Once you have a good grounding in the basic poses in the style of Yoga that you have chosen. The great thing is that you can practice on your own anywhere and at any time. 

The only pieces of equipment you really need is a Yoga mat and a set of Yoga blocks. All of the other tools are nice to have but not totally necessary. Be sure to check out our overview on the equipment needed to level up your Yoga game. So, whether it’s an online class on Youtube or self-practice. It’s a cheap and accessible form of exercise that can be done anywhere. 

Benefits of Walking 

Low Impact Exercise 

For people that haven’t been used to exercising in some time or older people that have stress in the joints and bones walking can be a great option. Walking is a very robust form of exercise. It’s perfect for all ages and is something you can slowly build your way up to regardless of your current fitness levels. 

A great cardiovascular workout that’s easy to get into 

Although walking is not as low impact as Yoga, overall it will put pretty minimal stress on your joints.  Walking sometimes is an overlooked form of exercise as people don’t think that it burns enough calories. But strap on a heart rate monitor and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how you can get your heart rate up with a brisk walk. 

No training or equipment necessary 

Walking is a great option for cardio as it requires basically no equipment to undertake. The only really necessary thing is a good pair of walking shoes. These shoes should offer comfort and support for your walking. It’s a form of exercise that is available to everyone and considering the current restrictions that are in place with a global pandemic it’s a great way to get out and get some fresh air.

Mix it up 

As the saying goes “Variety is the spice of life”. Walking is an exercise that you can mix it up on a constant basis.  All you need to do is to pick an alternative route. Go walking on a beach.  Throw in some inclines. Walk to a spot with a view. The options are endless. The opportunity to get yourself in the great outdoors is a great way to exercise. What’s really nice about walking is that you can use the time to listen to some music or your favorite podcast, which can help to increase your stride with some up-tempo music. 

Easy to integrate into everyday life 

Walking is very easy to integrate into your day to day life.  Simple things like leaving the car at home when you’re popping to the shops, or walking or walking to a friend’s house when you would usually drive.  These simple choices can make walking become a habit and an integral part of your life.  

So Which should I choose 

Both forms of exercise are great choices and as we have outlined above there is really no wrong choice with either option. Yoga definitely has the upper hand in regards to both a mental and physical workout, but walking is the clear winner from an accessibility standpoint.  If exercise has not been a priority it’s probably best to start with walking and then mix in some Yoga practice after a while. 

The decision on the form of exercise that best suits you is really a personal choice, so firstly define the goals you are trying to attain. Then with the benefits above. Review each of the exercises to see which ticks more boxes in terms of your goals. 

Written by Adrian

An avid Yogi, I have been practicing yoga for a number of years. Enthused by all things yoga and love writing about my experiences and learnings

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