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Why walking may be the best form of exercise (And where you can get your steps in the Santa Clarita Valley)

March 24th, 2023 | 6 min. read

By Jen Azevedo

The US fitness industry revenue in 2021 was $33.25 billion. In the United States, 39% of Americans hold gym memberships. 

 

Most of us turn to the gym as the place to get exercise. We want to attend the most cutting-edge classes in fitness so we can be the strongest and leanest versions of ourselves.

 

But what if we have been doing it wrong all along?

 

New research shows that the simple act of placing one foot in front of the other may be the safest and most beneficial form of exercise.

 

The Paseo Club is a social club in the Santa Clarita Valley that has supported members in fitness for almost 20 years. We offer indoor and outdoor training areas, courts for pickleball and tennis, and a junior-Olympic pool for all your swimming needs. 

 

Although we are big fans of our club (and our members are too), we are always interested in learning what the latest research shows about obtaining a well-rounded fitness regimen.

 

In this article, we will look at the benefits of walking, why it may be better than other forms of physical activity, and where you can walk in the Santa Clarita Valley.

 

Why walk?

Walking is scientifically proven to improve health. It enhances physical fitness and reduces the chance of chronic and severe illnesses. 

 

Walking also supports mental and emotional well-being, decreasing stress, depression, and anxiety. 
 

Physical Health

Reduces all-cause mortality

In a study published in the June 2018 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM), walking improves health for people of all ages, genders, and fitness levels. 

 

This study looked at 50,000 people in the United Kingdom and showed a 20% reduction in all-cause mortality (death by any cause) when they walk at an average, brisk, or fast pace. 

 

Improves heart health

Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths in the United States. The same study from the BJSM also saw a 24% reduction in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease includes heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems. 

 

Reduces the chance of dementia

Recently, a study explored the link between walking and dementia. It was discovered that walking reduces the chance of dementia — and not by a little bit. People who get 9800 steps daily decrease the risk of dementia by 50%.

 

No medicine reduces dementia as efficiently as walking. Plus, there is no cost and no side effects to walking.

 

If it is hard to get that many steps into your daily routine, even 3,800 (approximately 34 minutes of walking) reduces the risk of dementia by 25%. 

 

Reduces cancer

Brisk walking is associated with protecting people against several forms of cancer, including cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, kidney, and stomach. Walking and other forms of exercise help to prevent obesity, a risk factor for many cancers. It also improves immune system function, controls hormones related to cancer growth, and prevents high blood glucose levels.

 

Mental health

Walking can be a social activity with friends or a quiet meditative event when done solo. Both are beneficial to mental well-being. If you can walk in a natural setting, the rewards increase. But even city strolls are helpful.

 

Reduces depression

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommends 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity per week. Walking for that duration reduces symptoms of depression by up to 25%

 

Decreases stress

All forms of exercise facilitate the release of the feel-good hormones endorphins. When endorphin levels elevate, people’s moods are improved, and they feel better overall. Over time walking is also associated with decreasing stress hormone levels, such as cortisol. 



Improves cognitive function

Walking can help your brain function better. Research shows that the ability to focus increases, creativity is boosted, and your memory is enhanced. 

 

Adults should try to get in a walk before work or during their lunch break to improve their productivity and efficiency. Kids walking before (or on the way to) school gain benefits as well. 

 

Why is walking better than other forms of exercise?

There are dozens of great workout modalities — Pilates, running, HIIT, team sports, weightlifting, etc. Certainly, they all have benefits for your health.

But none are as safe, simple, and affordable as walking. 

Safe

Although more intense forms of exercise may yield slightly better fitness results, you are more prone to injury, which can sideline you from many to all types of movement. 

 

Walking is safe for almost everyone. It is low-impact, and the risk of injury is minimal. This makes it accessible as an ongoing physical fitness activity. 

Simple

Although Pilates trains your core and weight lifting builds stronger quads, you need the proper gear, clothing, skill, and club membership to participate in those activities. 

 

The number one perk of walking is that you need nothing other than a pair of comfy shoes. You do not need any specific training. You can walk anywhere, anytime, for any length of time that you have available. 

 

Affordable

When money is tight, fees for gym memberships or group classes are often at the bottom of the list of priorities. Even weights or machines for a home gym add up.

 

Walking is free, and you need no special equipment to walk. This makes it affordable — and thereby accessible — to everyone, regardless of income. 

 

Where to walk in the Santa Clarita Valley?

The Santa Clarita Valley is home to beautiful hiking trails, several town paseos, and gyms with treadmills — all viable options for walking.

 

Hiking trails

Hiking is especially beneficial because you get the challenge of varying terrain and are in a natural setting. 

 

The Santa Clarita Valley has thousands of acres that dot the hillsides providing residents with dozens of hiking trails. Enjoy the vistas after you climb those ascents, knowing you are boosting your physical and emotional health.

 

For beautiful local hikes, check out: 

 

Towsley Canyon Loop Trail: This trail is a 5.1 mile loop that takes you to an amazing view of the valley. It is a great workout and a lovely walk.

Elsmere Canyon Loop Trail: This trail is for when you are shorter on time because it is only 3.1 miles. The canyon is part of a wildlife corridor and is a wonderful place for seeing wildflowers in the spring.

Placerita Canyon Waterfall Trail: Hike to a seasonal waterfall on this 4.5-mile trek. It is more level than Towsley for those who are looking more for a relaxing stroll and less for a steep mountain climb. 

City Paseos

Use the paseo system to find an abundance of walking spaces available without crosswalks or car exhaust. 

 

The City of Santa Clarita has approximately 80 miles of picturesque trails and 20 miles of paseos designed for walking, riding, jogging, and skating. These trails weave throughout the valley and are easy to access from multiple locations. 

Here are three great walking options:

30-minutes paseo walk: Park at the Heritage Park lot and cross the bridge over Newhall Ranch Road. Off the bridge, turn right, and enjoy the paseo trail against the wash until the bridge at Decoro. Turn right and grab the paseo on the other side to create a rectangular path back to the park. Distance: 2 miles.

60-minutes paseo walk: Park at the Iron Horse Bridge lot and grab the trail, heading east toward McBean. Come out on McBean and take the bridge to the other side to join the paseo again. Stay on the trail until the bridge at Newhall Ranch Road, where you'll cross and begin heading back toward the Iron Horse bridge. Enjoy a moment of SCV History as you take in the bridge and the signs for old-time Santa Clarita. Distance: 4 miles.

90-minutes paseo walk: Park at the Paseo Club and hop on the trail, heading North toward Copperhill. Stay on the trail all the way to Copperhill, then take the bridge to the other side of the paseo to complete the circle. Stop and see the creeks filled with water over the rainy season. Distance: 5 miles. 

 

Treadmills

The treadmill can be the best option for a walk. Head into the gym, and you have a controlled environment where you can customize the speed, incline, and distance of your walk with ease.  

 

You can find treadmill workouts anywhere to help stave off boredom, like the recently popular 12-3-30 workout for weight loss. Put the incline at 12% and speed at 3.0, and walk for 30 minutes. That’s it!

 

The low-impact, low-cardio walk gives you a nice stretch, especially for those new to the treadmill. 

 

Incorporating more walking into your week

Whether you are feeling too busy to train, too injured to play, or too broke to pay, walking is likely the best choice you can make for getting regular physical activity.

 

Walking supports your body, mind, and spirit, minimizing health problems and boosting your mood and well-being.

 

The staff at the Paseo Club knows that exercise is only one aspect of feeling great. That is why it is a community-focused social club that hosts several social events each month. Visit with fellow members, enjoy live entertainment, and eat great food from our cafe.

 

When you are ready to work out, look for our group fitness classes. Training with others increases accountability and builds camaraderie. 

View Athletic Calendar

Schedule a tour of the Paseo Club today, so you can check out all eight acres of the club. You can also meet instructors, staff, and members.

Schedule a Tour

Read these three articles to learn more about what is happening in the Santa Clarita Valley.


 



Jen Azevedo

Jen Azevedo is a person of many talents. She is a tennis professional, pickleball professional, personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and the general manager of the Paseo Club. She loves the community at the Paseo Club and that it is also a safe and fun place for her daughter. Jen’s favorite activities are joining her tribe for trail races or her partners for tennis matches. Occasionally Jen slows down to relax with a book — she reads over 100 a year!