The world of fitness can be as overwhelming, confusing, and contradictory as the world of nutrition. So naturally, we felt the pull to Everipe it– that is, to explore simplified, no fuss, powerful ways to make it a daily habit. And with that, walking has entered the chat.
A few thoughts so we don’t lose you here: A morning walk isn’t just for your Aunt Betty! It is a powerful and effective form of exercise. Even more powerful? How easy it is to make it a habit.
Most obstacles between a person and an exercise routine (it’s too hard/too expensive/ too intimidating/ too time consuming) can be removed when the exercise is walking. Walking is accessible to most people–even when life is busy, motivation is low, or we’re dealing with an injury or other life event. From marching while seated in a chair (yes--that counts!) to uphill powerwalks, there is an effective walking routine for just about everyone. And with the weather reports looking up, there’s no better time to consider adding walking to your weekly routine.
Walking is Win-Win-Win-Win…
Win #1: Anyone can benefit from walking, and anyone at any age can add walking to their daily or weekly routines. Even better? It's a wonderful activity to do with a friend, or as a family!
Win #2: Absolutely wonderful news: walking allows us to reap many of the benefits of running without the same level of risk. Walking is a weight bearing exercise, so it is great for building muscle, bone health (super important as we age) and balance. It’s also cardiovascular, so it is great for heart and lung health and managing diseases like hypertension and diabetes.
Win #3: Science has even found a connection between walking and cognitive longevity. A regular brisk walk may lower your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure as much as running would. Can you use walking to maintain a healthy weight? As part of the equation of more calories burned than consumed, yes! A 140 lb person walking briskly for 30 mins will burn 127 calories, which can help contribute to weight loss in a healthy and sustainable way.
Win #4 (and beyond!): Walking is also thought to help
- curb anxiety and reduce stress
- improve focus and creativity
- boost happiness hormones
- instill a sense of connection–to nature and to friends, whether you’re walking shoulder to shoulder or chatting on the phone.
Staying physically active, including by walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week (or 180 minutes per week) can help keep your immune system strong, keep chronic diseases at bay, and even improve sleep.
Ok, I'm sold. So How Do I Turn a Walk into a Workout?
In order to boost your fitness, your walks will need to be brisk. To establish your brisk pace, use this general guideline: walking briskly means that your breath is heavy, but you can still carry on a conversation. If you’re a beginner, shoot for a 20 minute mile pace. Otherwise, try for (or work towards) a 15 minute mile pace.
As you continue to build your level of fitness, try the Mayo Clinic’s 3 F’s: faster, farther, frequent. Increase your pace, increase your distance, or increase the number of walks you complete each week. For even higher intensity, try adding intervals, stairs, hills,or new terrain (think grass, trail, or beach). And don’t forget the fourth F - make it fun! Listen to music, a podcast, an audiobook, or meditation. For more social connection, enlist a friend as your walking buddy.
Always remember to warm up by walking at a leisurely pace for the first few minutes. And if you miss a walk, or even multiple walks? Don’t beat yourself up. Start again and rebuild the habit!