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Metabolism and Low Intensity Exercise


Hey there, I'm a fairly new forum participant. Anyway, I was curious, whether or not low intensity exercise like walking would become catabolic?

It's a long story, but my car broke down not long ago, so I walked to work. It is about a 2.5 hour hike each way. It seemed to me that it gave my metabolism a kick in the pants so I did it once last week too.

The reason I am asking, is because I have suddenly dropped some poundage when I had, until the walking, been pretty static lately. The rate of loss had me worried about catabolism -- though I did scarf back some cottage cheese before the hike thinking it might help.

If the walking would not be catabolic or if it could be mitigated by eating cottage cheese or such, I'd like to keep doing it once a week (feet willing). I have a pretty high BF% now, see pics in "before pics" in the photos forum if you are curious, and could stand to lose some BF.

Any thoughts from the gurus? Thanks in advance.



I noticed through the years that everytime I did cardio regularly I did in fact lose muscle size, and some strength. I am refering to running 2 or 3 miles at a clip.

I think that interval training is the way to go if you want to spare your muscles. Brief intense sprinting, anywhere from 100yd to 440yd intervals.


Walking may burn some calories, but it's a far from optimal way to spend your time toward acheiving your fat loss goals.

Drive to work and hit the cardio machine or do sprint work with the extra time you've saved.


Actually, I think you should walk to work and still hit the cardio machine.

Walking is not even a remotely high enough intensity to burn body fat, but simple things like walking really aid the results.


I forgot to mention that many strength coaches in the past have mentioned walking as "a form of travel, not a form of cardiovascular training!" (Not the exact quote... but the same message)

Perhaps if you haven't walked much and have poor conditioning, walking might become catabolic. But if you are in decent shape, then walk as much as you can.

Sorry to say, I find it disgusting when I see somebody drive to the gym to use a cardio machine... especially with long duration cardio. (HIIT is alright... although I don't know why people simply can't do cardio with body weight squats).


Thanks for the insights. I guess we have a bit of mixed review right now.

I did some searching and found the articles where it was mentioned that walking was a form of travel, not an exercise. I do think that is a bit simplistic, see also the article dealing with NEPA (was it NEPA, non exercise physical activity?).

Perhaps a good hike would also work as high volume low intensity effort -- promoting blood flow and recovery from previous workouts? If you walk, you can feel various muscles in the legs and back tighten and release.

Anyway, for now, I'm going to keep at it, unless I notice strength issues. Also, if anyone knows how extended low intensity exercise affects metabolism, feel free to enlighten me.