Let’s face it: not everyone is an Olympic athlete, or a Ninja Warrior champion, or a long-distance runner. So while it’s trendy to take up different (and strenuous) activities to stay fit, lose weight, and tone your body, revving up your cardio to intense levels doesn’t work so well for everyone.
Instead of pushing yourself so hard right out of the gate, or pursuing an exercise regimen that you hate (and won’t last), start with some smaller steps first. And I mean that literally – try walking instead.
Following are some health benefits of walking:
Easier and more accessible to do throughout the day.
Walking has been a great way to keep your body healthy and burn calories, even if it means fewer calories burned than a strenuous rowing session. But walking is something that is relatively easy for anyone to do, and it also is something you can do throughout the day, keeping your body healthier than doing an intense workout in the morning and sitting behind a computer the rest of the day.
You can mix it up and set goals.
If you are skeptical or walking routines bore you, it’s a good idea to set some goals. Instead of walking your dog around your neighborhood day in and out, try setting a distance goal. Walk to the next neighborhood and back, or walk 4 miles per day, then lengthen it to five. Try walking more quickly, or walking and holding a pair of weights. See what feels right to help you build strength and endurance.
It’s easier on your joints.
Exercises like running, cycling, and surfing can put stress on your joints, especially if you don’t warm the muscles up properly. With walking, there’s a natural pace and rhythm that can work with your body, resulting in less impact and fewer injuries than more impact-focused sports.
You can get stronger over time.
Yes, walking is working your muscles, which means when you do it regularly you grow stronger. Your body is better able to fight illness and aches and pains when you are more mobile, and it can also help you sleep and digest food more easily because you are producing endorphins, as you do with any exercise. Just be sure to set goals and stick to them, so you don’t lose momentum!
You can get out in nature.
I love running, but nothing (to me) beats a good hike in the woods. I love the silence and the physicality of the experience, which can be meditative. I am pushed to see what is behind the next bend, or going that extra quarter of a mile uphill to reach an amazing view. If you have access to nature where you live, I suggest you walk outside. It’s good for the soul.