Walking is one of the simplest and easiest ways to get active. You don’t need any special equipment, you don’t need to find a partner or a group, and it can be done almost anywhere and at any time. We can wonder if this is a sport though.
What is walking?
Walking is moving forward by using your legs. Step by step you can move in a certain direction. This can be done over different distances and terrains. The longest walk in 24 hours is recorded to be more than 142 miles. The longest recorded journey by foot was 19019 miles. It can require a lot of training to be able to walk for this long.
history of walking
Most of our ancestors walked on two feet even before they had sophisticated brains or high-grade tools. They walked to find food, to avoid predators, and to follow their daily migration pattern. In fact, there are some scientists who believe that bipedalism – walking on two feet – evolved before tools, fire, and spoken language. It is an activity that a lot of people perform every day. A lot of people enjoy doing this as it can be a great way to discover new places and enjoy nature.
Walking doesn’t require a lot of equipment. You just need good shoes. Some people also wear sunglasses and carry water so that they can have a sip while they are walking. Other than this, there is no gear needed to walk.
What is competitive walking
It might sound weird but there are several competitions for walkers. These focus on endurance (where they have to travel a long distance) or speed (speedwalking). Competitive walkers are serious athletes who train rigorously and travel the world to compete. The sport is governed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the same organization that governs most other track and field events. Walkers compete in both indoor and outdoor events, though they generally cover shorter distances than runners.
The difference with running is that one foot has to be on the floor at all times in speed running. There are officials to make sure that you don’t start running as this would provide an unfair advantage.
Now that we know more about walking, let’s see what a sport is.
What is a sport?
The word “sport” is used as a synonym for physical activity or exercise. You might say that someone is a “sport” because they are active and fit. But what does it mean to be a sport? In the broad definition, it means a physical activity that requires certain skills.
Stricter definitions also require that sports have a competitive element. An activity needs 3 components before it can be considered a sport according to these definitions:
1/ A physical activity
2/ That requires a skill
3/ And has a competitive element
In today’s world, most sports involve competitive games where the goal is to beat your opponent. This means that you can’t participate in a sport without having an opponent.
A lot of sports can be viewed on TV and a lot of people have a favorite athlete. This can inspire them to start practicing this sport as well.
Is walking a sport?
Let’s go over the different elements of the definition of walking to see if it is a sport.
Walking has a physical element. You have to move your legs and feet to move forward. Step by step. Walking for a long period of time can be very intense.
Walking requires some skill. There are several techniques to walk more efficiently and faster. While some people might argue that other sports require more skills and are harder to perform, we could still argue that walking takes some skill. The way in which you walk can have a big impact on the speed that you have. There is software that can show you how to improve your technique.
Walking can also have a competitive element. As discussed, before there is speed and endurance walking. Some walks take place in rugged terrain and push the athletes to the maximum. Walkers often train a lot so that they can win the contest. There are also variations such as Nordic walking which uses walking sticks to move forward faster. This requires a lot of movement.
Based on the previous definition, we can state that walking can be a sport. If you are just walking over the street, it is not considered a sport according to the most narrow definitions as there is not a competitive element. In a more broad definition, this competitive element is not required, and walking over the street can be considered a sport as well. For this reason, we can consider walking a sport.
Professional walkers often have coaches and a support team to optimize their performance. Most walking contests are done individually but some can be done as a team.
At the moment race walking is a part of the Olympics. The goal is to be the first walker that finishes the distance. A lot of walkers compete and they have to find the right rhythm to be able to win. There is a limit as to how fast speed walkers can go as they are not allowed to run. Finding the right speed is essential in this sport. It can require a lot of practice to get this right.
Walking is one of the oldest and most basic forms of exercise. It can be done anywhere, at any time, and with any level of intensity. In some instances, it can be considered a sport. If you are just walking around, it doesn’t have a competitive element and can be seen as an activity instead of a sport in more narrow definitions.