A few years ago, I read a health and fitness article which made a pretty bold claim: Walking is the best thing you can do for your body. It listed the following benefits you usually hear associated with walking: decreased blood pressure, increased circulation, improved blood pressure, decreased joint paint, elevated mood, etc.
Sure, all good things. But really? Walking is the best thing you can do for your body? Exaggeration much? Turns out..no. It's actually pretty dang incredible for you.
Get this: Walking is the NUMBER ONE form of exercise for which our bodies are designed. Say whaaaat. Not squats. Not crunches. Not running. WALKING. Walking is the most natural movement for us. Not only does it generate the aforementioned benefits, but studies keep finding more and more. Here are some more:
- Reduced body fat and body weight. (Turns out, it's truly effective at reducing belly fat. Hollaaaa!)
- Improved glycemic control, especially if you walk 30 minutes after eating
- Boosted memory and creativity - musts for me!
- In conjunction with the previous benefit, it sparks ideas and solutions. (My best ideas/solutions usually come when I'm out walking my dogs.)
- Increased lymphatic flow, which helps flush toxins from the body. (YES PLEASE!)
- Reduced pain (It's low impact and can even help offset joint pain and arthritis by keeping those muscles warm and limber)
- Improved sleep (particularly if you walk outside during the day, which helps regulate your circadian rhythms)
And if you really step to it and get moving, it can be an even BETTER workout than jogging! Once you near that threshold, it's actually easier to break into a jog than it is to maintain that brisk walking pace.
Some tips on amping up your walk:
- Incorporate weights: ankle weights, wrist weights, weighted vest, light dumbbells, or a baby :)
- Add in intervals: play around with varying inclines/speeds. Note: If you jack up the incline while on a treadmill, keep it hands free! If you cling to the sides of the treadmill, you're technically cheating.
- Take a hike! A hike is a fantastic way to squeeze in some extra booty work
Working out places stress on your body. This is a good thing, because your body's reaction to the stress is what makes it stronger and faster. However, if you're in a hyper-stressed state to begin with (mentally/physically), then this can do more harm than good. Especially if you OD on the the workout/don't let your body recover. Walking is an excellent movement option if you are:
- Wanting active recovery (especially if your muscles are sore!)
- Easing into exercise and don't want to jump into anything too strenuous
- Recovering from adrenal fatigue and need to mellow out for a bit while not losing your endurance
- Are needing stress relief
- Trying to fit both exercise and meditation into your day, yet keep falling short. Hello, moving meditation (it's a thing!)
Your walking pace, intensity, and length of time are completely up to you, depending on your individual goals/needs. A ten-minute walk 30 minutes after eating can be just as comparable as a 45-minute walk. When I walk my dogs, I turn on my tunes and zone out. It's my release time, my me time, my reflection time. I'm not trying to make a certain time or cover a certain distance - I'm there for the mental benefits.
So decide what you're in it for, and go for it!
Here are some helpful resources: