You all do know that exercise isn’t just plodding anyway on the treadmill or elliptical at the same pace for an hour, right? Did you also know that you don’t have to push yourself to your physical limits every time you exercise just to consider yourself “fit”? Fitness and exercise can look many different ways depending on the person and who you ask. Concentrate on defining it in a way that WORKS and is SUSTAINABLE for you.
Normally, I do high-intensity cardio and strength intervals when I work out. I do it because I enjoy it, but man does it take a lot out of you. On top of all that there’s a lot of prep that goes into doing that type of workout consistently. You’ve gotta wear certain shoes, you’ve gotta put on a certain bra, wear certain leggings and a shirt, and on top of all that get yourself INTO the gym. For a lot of us and especially those beginner exercisers that can be a tall order and one people aren’t willing to adopt long term.
Well your prayers are answered because I have an idea for you..
Yes, walking! You don’t have to wear certain clothes or shoes other than what’s comfortable to you and you can do it anytime almost. You can also do it almost anywhere. No prep necessary!
The benefits of walking:
- You can wear whatever is most comfortable
- It’s low-impact/low intensity work
- Less sweating
- Burns fat
- Allows for auditory multi-tasking
- Can be done for ANY length of time you have available and on the fly
- Beginner exerciser friendly
- It takes more time, but can burn just as many calories as a HIIT workout
- Boosts energy
How to start a walking program
First things first, you only need 150 minutes of exercise a week to see the benefits of cardiorespiratory exercise. That’s 30 mins of moderate-intensity exercise for 5 days a week, but you can break it up anyway you like. Starting anywhere near or below 150 mins a week is ideal. Some people can go more if they like. It’s all about how you feel.
Load up your audio player
This means get some new tunes, an audiobook you’ve been meaning to start, or some podcasts you’ve been meaning to try. Make sure you have enough material to last you your entire walk. The best part of all this is that you’ll begin to associate those positive experiences you have with music, books, and podcasts with physical activity. Eventually you’ll be excited to go on your walks just because you have the opportunity to relax and listen to a good audiobook.
Find a route
Try to know your route ahead of time, but making it up as you go along and exploring is an excellent idea as well. It’s just that knowing helps you prevent running into bottlenecks along the way and interrupting your flow.
Start off slow
Depending on your fitness level you can start anywhere. If you haven’t done a walking program before I suggest testing out the waters and seeing how far you can go before you need to stop up to about an hour. If you needed to stop make that your goal for your first month or so and break it up into 4 different progressions you can progress to from each week. For instance if you start out and your absolute limit is 20 minutes, start with 5 minute walks the first week and then progress to 10 the next, 15 the week after that, and 20 the 4th week. Remember, it’s not a race! You’re trying to cultivate a habit you can keep up with, not push yourself into exhaustion. The prime benefit of a walking practice is that it can be done with minimal effort and fits easily into any schedule.
Find a buddy
Sometimes you need some added motivation. The good news is walking is a pretty much baseline activity that most of our friends and humans in general are equip to do. Having a friend and social support could be the extra push you or they need to adhere to their exercise program. Remember, the walking program is about creating positive and easily attainable experiences with exercise that anybody can get, regardless of exercise experience level.
Consider investing in some walking shoes
The thing about walking is it works for any type of shoe you wear because you would have been wearing that shoe to walk around in life anyway. However, it can’t hurt to invest in a new pair of kicks every now and then if you plan on going on extensive walks and are aware of the terrain. The pair I use are the Nike Pegasus, which are good for both walking and running. I suggest going to a shoe store and letting a sales person know of any walking related issues you might have in order to find the shoe that fits you best.
Find times that work for you
Obviously, walking has significantly less overhead compared to other forms of exercise. You can literally go out and do it during your lunch break, as soon as you get up in the morning, after work, before dinner, after dinner, whenever! You’ve got so many options. You just need to find a break or a lull in your schedule and get out there and go.
I believe most people don’t start a walking program and instead do nothing because they don’t realize how beneficial the simple act of walking really is. They forget that running and plodding away on the elliptical aren’t the only way to get cardiorespiratory benefits too. Walking might take you a longer amount of time to get there, but it can be done more easily, a lot more often, and in a significantly more comfortable manner. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and go for a walk! The benefits are only steps away.
Example times to go for walks
- Before work
- Lunch break
- After work
- Before dinner
- After dinner
This blog is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.