Today I’m talking about my #1 favorite mode of exercise that I recommend to almost everyone: walking. Read on about the benefits, how to start a walking routine, why it’s important to walk every day, and how to change up your routine.
Check out these tips for getting started with a walking routine or making small changes that can lead to better fitness, health and wellness.
Hi! Happy Wednesday! How’s the day treating ya? I’m taking an F45 class with a friend, have back-to-back client calls, and am making tacos for dinner tonight. Hope you have a lovely day!
For today’s post, let’s talk about what I truly consider to be the *best* form of exercise. Are there other amazing modes? YES. But if everyone (who has no physical limitations or medical conditions that are contraindicated for this) could walk, I think it would have such a positive impact on physical and mental health. Walking is one of my non-negotiable activities every day. Even if it’s a short 10-15 minute stroll around the block, I feel more centered, energized, and sleep better when I’ve gotten in a daily walk. Maisey also loves daily walks and is less destructive when she’s gotten out some energy. 😉
In today’s post, I thought I could share some ideas on how to start a walking routine, some tips, health benefits of walking, and ideas to change up your walking routine if it’s already a consistent part of your life (YAY). I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, too!
How to start or change up your walking routine
Why walking is AMAZING:
– Meditative benefits. My therapist told me that walking can similar benefits for the brain as meditation. It’s the repetitive movement of your feet on the pavement that calms the body’s sympathetic system (the “flight or fight” response) and can help with anxiety, depression, and mood. (Of course, if you suffer from anxiety or depression, please seek out the help you need. Walking can be a great complement to traditional therapy, but isn’t a substitute.)
– Cardiovascular benefits. Walking for 30 minutes each day can decrease risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
– It’s extremely functional. I want to be able to walk for as long as possible, and the best way to do this is by walking frequently and training the muscles that support walking. As far as functional everyday movements go, walking is high on the list, and if you don’t use this skill as you age, you can lose it as the muscles atrophy and bone density decreases.
– Walking can be used to increase overall calorie burn and reduce body fat.
– Sunlight benefits from walking outdoors. This is a great way to get vitamin D, fresh air, and sunlight, which can impact our circadian rhythm. When you’re exposed to sunlight during the day, it can help improve sleep quality at night.
– Walking can also help with blood sugar response and insulin sensitivity. One of my favorite *hacks* for a high sugar meal is to take a short walk afterwards to reduce the blood glucose response.
Tips on starting a walking routine:
– Multitask. Take calls or watch your favorite shows while on a walk. I take all of my Beautycounter calls while I walk around the neighborhood, and it’s one of my favorite ways to multitask.
– Add in short walk breaks during your workday, even if it’s a short walk around a courtyard or to another building and back.
– Build up time and intensity slowly. Don’t feel like you have to start with a 1-hr walk each day. Start with 10 minutes and after you can do this consistently for a few weeks, try 15 minutes.
Some things to consider:
– Make sure that you’re in a safe location. If you live in an area where it is unsafe to walk outdoors alone, find a safe spot, like at a gym, a friends’ neighborhood or park walking trail, or a treadmill.
– If you’re going to a new location, make sure that someone you know is aware of where you’ll be and about what time you’ll be finished. Keep your cell phone and identification with you.
– Make sure you have supportive and comfortable shoes for walking. Shoes make such a huge difference! Wear shoes that offer the amount of support you need, and if anything, head to a local running store to find shoes that work for your foot, pronation, stride, etc.
– Use your GLUTES when you walk. It’s really easy to think about walking as a lift from the hip flexor and the foot falls down from here. Instead, focus on using your glutes, almost like you’re ice skating. Push off from each step, using your glutei strength. Also consider your pelvis position while you’re walking. If your pelvis were a bucket, you’d want to keep the bucket from spilling water constantly to the front or back; try to keep it relatively stable. For more walking tips, check out this podcast episode!
How long should I walk?
– It depends. It depends on what your daily routine is like. If you have a sedentary job/life, then you may benefit from walking more than someone who is already on their feet all day. Consider your lifestyle and what makes sense for your job, amount of time you can dedicate to walking, and activity levels. I think a great goal is to aim for 30 minutes per day, in addition to daily exercise and everyday activity. If you need help determining cardio guidelines, check out this post!
How to change up your walking routine:
– Change your route. Explore a new trail or walking path. This is one of my favorite ways to explore Tucson and also new places when we travel! Take a buddy with you and explore somewhere new. Bonus: look for a spot with various incline levels.
– Wear a weighted vest. This can increase calorie burn since you’re carrying more mass and working harder. If you do wear a weighted vest or backpack, make sure it’s not too heavy and doesn’t impair posture and movement patterns (like make you hunch over and turn off your core while you’re walking).
– Add in speed blasts. Try picking up your speed to a power walk or jog for some challenge intervals during your walking workout. One of my favorite methods: 2 minutes easy pace, 1 minute brisk pace or jog.
– Add in strength circuits or bodyweight exercises. You can implement your strength workout with your walking workout. Try this at a track: 1 lap, 20 squats, 1 lap 20 walking lunges, 1 lap, 20 triceps dips, 1 lap, 20 push-ups, 1 lap, 45-second plank.
– Get a friend to join you! This is one of my favorite ways to walk. The time flies by and it’s a nice twist on social activities.
– Add stairs into the rotation. Stair climbing is an excellent way to train various muscles in your legs and change up your routine.
– Try an audio-based walking workout. Peloton has some amazing ones!
Are you a fan of walking? Do you have an amount of steps that you aim to hit each day?
Remember that if you’re not consistently hitting 10k steps per day, that’s ok! Try to gradually increase your amount of steps over time. For example, if you’re only hitting 3,000 or so, aim for 4,000 for a few weeks and build from there.