Walking is the Best Exercise for Wellness
Updated: Apr 8, 2019
I have been down in Asheville, NC for a month taking some time for self-care. One of the things I have been doing is lots of walking. It feels so good!
Walkable Lifestyle and Community
I am staying in a walkable area and I walk everywhere. I walk to the grocery store, the yoga studio, on the Greenway, and downtown for shopping and dining. It feels so good to leave my car parked and be able to walk wherever I want to go. I have been easily getting in at least 10000 steps a day without even thinking about exercising. The movement boosts my spirits and my metabolism and I feel great. This is the perfect form of self-care for me (and my puppy, Phoebe).
At home in Connecticut, I live in a suburban community where you have to drive to most places. I still find ways to walk back home, but it is not as much a part of my day. I have to drive over to the walking path or trails rather than just head out my door.
Many of my clients also struggle with getting enough exercise. They have desk jobs and movement is missing in their lives. When we start to strategize about how to get more exercise to support their metabolism, they don’t think of walking as exercise. It can be as easy as starting with a ten minute walk each day. I predict that you won’t want to stop after ten minutes, but set an easy achievable goal and just start. The movement of walking will make you feel better – physically and emotionally.
Walking is easy, fun, and free. No special equipment needed and no planning required. Just one foot in front of another.
Walking can be highly meditative and a way to reconnect with yourself. You can do this just through a simple relaxing walk or you can consciously practice walking meditation.
For a walking meditation, you start by taking a deep breath and allow your arms to relax at your sides. You draw attention to your feet and intentionally pick up one foot and deliberately place it one small step ahead. Continue to walk in this manner with a soft gaze straight ahead. You can do this even in a small area and just go back and forth. Set a timer for yourself so you don’t have to think about when you need to stop. It is a wonderful meditation practice for when you need some clarity and want to let go of bothersome thoughts.
Walking outdoors is the best. You get the benefits of both movement and being exposed to plants and fresh air. We were designed to live outdoors amongst the greenery and this is a natural co-existence for thousands of years. Numerous studies have shown that exercise outdoors supports mental wellbeing. Green exercise is done outside and has been shown to improve mood, to reduce attention and heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol compared to exercise indoors.
Read more about the studies at:
Walking is not difficult for most of us and doesn’t feel like an onerous workout, yet it is health building and supports longevity. In this article in Outside Magazine about walking, there is some great advice from a 90 year old walker, saying “you’ve just got to keep moving”.
I believe exercise can be this easy – just keep moving.
Movement for Weight Loss
The Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists (BCNS) also recommends being less sedentary to support weight loss. The goal can be as simple as being less sedentary. Reducing the amount of time spent sitting can increase your lifespan. In this large population study, it was confirmed that people who spent more time sitting had a greater risk of death, especially due to heart disease.
The BCNS advises having an active daily routine may be
sufficient to prevent high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and metabolic
syndrome . You can ask yousrelf, “What can I do to be less sedentary?”
Can you perhaps try one of these easy ideas for incorporating more movement?
1. Stop for a 5 minute walk each time you drive by a bike path
2. Park in the farthest parking spot at stores
3. Get up each hour during the day and take a walk around your office or home
4. Wake up with a ten minute walk around the block
5. Install a desk on your treadmill so you can walk slowly while working
6. Take a walk at lunch with a buddy (human or four legged J)
7. Put a treadmill in front of your television
8. And my favorite --- Go hike a mountain!!!
9. Or my current passion – be part of a walkable community and make it a natural part of life.
How Much to Walk
The government recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which would be a little over 20 minutes per day of walking. I don’t like to get too hung up on these rules as I believe that you can find a way to incorporate walking into your life where it is a part of your routine or so fun that you don’t have to think about reaching a time goal. Just start moving more and sitting less and you may find yourself doing more than 20 minutes per day.
Ask yourself if you can find small ways to move more. Set a small goal and stick to it. Have fun and enjoy yourself. Let walking be a form of self-care and make it a priority in your life to support your physical and mental health.
Learn more about how nutrition, yoga, and lifestyle can help you reach your health goals by booking a complimentary 15 minute strategy call.