I’ve been working at making walking a daily habit, but wait a second.
Walking is NOT work.
As human beings, we’re designed to move. We’re not put together in a way that means lying in an awkward posture on a couch for 4 hours watching Netflix is normal.
Ok, couch lounging might feel natural, but it isn’t! We HAVE to move our bodies for our health. Or we’re going to end up immobile and needing lots of help when we get older. Body movement doesn’t have to be walking, but it also doesn’t have to be tortuous exercise routines you don’t enjoy.
Over the last 4 months, I’ve been able to get outside walking on a regular basis. I started doing it for my health, and now I do it because of the many benefits.
So why do I think walking is THE way to get moving if you’re not used to being active?
For Almost Anyone: Unless you’re in a wheelchair or are bedridden, you can walk. Even if you’ve just had surgery, or you need a cane or walker, you can walk. Just take it easy if you have mobility issues. If your vision is poor, or you need some kind of support, arrange a regular walking time with someone you trust. If you don’t have any physically-limiting concerns, you can walk. I went for a 2 km walk the day after I had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy (they took three lymph nodes). Minor surgery compared to most, but I didn’t want my walking habit to be derailed.
Uber Easy: Put on a pair of shoes and step out the door.
No Cost: Use what you have for now to get your butt out the door. If you want to buy better quality runners as you develop your walking habit, then go for it, but don’t use I-don’t-have-the-right-shoes as an excuse.
Personal Retreat: This is really key. Walking can be that one time in the day for YOU. Escape your day. Do with it what you want. Think over a problem and some possible solutions. Use the time to get energized with a playlist you love. Groove to your moves. Get informed or entertained with a favorite podcast. Listen to an audio book you’re enjoying. Walking is freedom, not work.
De-stress: We’re loaded up with stress these days, and we all need some down time. Away from work, away from household tasks, away from family obligations and away from people. Some like to walk with their friends, and that works too, but for me, I like time to myself to decompress. Going for a walk can be a great way to cool down after an argument too.
Feels Good: Once you get walking, your body livens up and energizes you. When you move your body, you feel good. If you feel tired, or even drained, you might be surprised at how walking will get your juices flowing. If you deal with any kind of depression, give walking a try.
Fresh Air: Whenever possible, choose walking outside over a treadmill walk or a walk on an indoor track. Indoor walking is better than no walking, but getting the fresh air is a bonus. Humans weren’t intended to live inside buildings 24 hours a day. We need to breath in fresh air for our lungs. Walking allows you to get lots of fresh air.
Vitamin D: By getting outside, you can get nature’s medicine through sunshine (even if it’s cloudy, the sun’s rays are getting to you somewhat). There’s always some article reminding us that we need more Vitamin D, especially the kind that doesn’t come in a bottle. If there’s too much sun, wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from excessive UV rays.
Nature Delivers: Aside from fresh air and sunshine, walking gives you a connection to nature. Try to walk in an area with trees, plants and grass, or even better, in a park or forest. Many of my walks are in a nearby forest where I can hear the trees swaying in the breeze and where I sometimes spot a deer or rabbit. Often, I walk in my neighborhood though, to save time. I’m still among beautiful trees and can look at lawns and gardens along my way. Even if you’re in a dense urban area, look for signs of nature to enjoy: plants, peoples pets, birds and glimpses of blue sky.
Decide your Distance: Start where it feels right. Don’t overdo it. If one block is all you can walk, then no problem. Build up to two and three blocks. Maybe you’re a little more limber and you want to start with 2 km. Go for it and build up to 5 km. It’s up to you. Vary your distance. Do a faster 3 km walk one day, and a slower 5 km walk another day. There are no rules. Do what feels right each time you go for your walk.
Take your Time: You can fit your walk in during the morning before you shower and head to work. You can fit it in during your work day. You can do it as soon as you get home from work, or you can try an after-dinner walk. You could do two 10 minute walks or a single 20 minute walk. It’s all up to you.
Pick your Pace: Start out slowly and build to a faster pace. If you have a Fitbit or other tracker, use it to track your pace. It is super-motivating to see how your pace improves.
No Excuse: Walking is the perfect no-excuse way to move. Make walking a non-negotiable, time-for-you habit.
If you haven’t yet discovered the amazing benefits of walking, give it a try for one week. Aim to walk for at least 10 minutes daily for seven days. See how it feels.
Maybe you’ll decide walking is not for you, but maybe…you end up walking for much longer and discover a new love.
Your Journey. Own it.