Welcome to the first monthly installment of Fitness Friday. Since I’m a Physical Therapist, I already have some background in exercise physiology so I wanted to try something new that would not only help people but would push me to expand my knowledge. First up, I will be discussing walking as a form of exercise!
I used to be a runner; when I lived in Boston, I would run all over the city. Most days I ran about 3-4 miles, one evening running about 8 miles; that was seemingly a fluke and I think the only time I had a runner’s high. When pain in my shins (I self-diagnosed compartment syndrome and proceeded to not get any treatment) stopped me from running, I started walking everywhere in the city. And I mean everywhere. My last summer in Boston, my clinical was about 2 miles from my apartment and no matter the weather, I walked to and from clinical every day. Twenty miles a week. I don’t think I’ve ever been or felt fitter; I didn’t even feel the need to exercise outside of the walking.
Ever since, about 4 years later, walking is my main form of exercise (besides some strength training that I do separately and will write about later). It has certainly helped that having a dog gives me a reason to walk everyday (in fact, for me, one pro to even adopt a dog was to have a companion on my daily walks). I tend to walk fast, which helps make it feel more like cardiovascular strengthening but I understand that that can be a downside for some people, that walking doesn’t increase your heart rate as much as running or the elliptical and biking. But besides that, walking has so many other wonderful benefits.
It’s better for your joints and long term health, it’s more beneficial for weight loss, everybody can do it and is therefore better than being completely sedentary to prevent a whole host of medical issues, and it is good for your overall mental well-being. For me, it helps me destress and stop thinking so much. I usually put on a podcast or music depending on my mood. When I return from a walk, especially if it was a longer one, I do feel tired but I feel refreshed and energized. And most importantly, I don’t hurt like I sometimes did with running.
The point here is not to knock anyone’s choice of exercise, but for people who have difficulty motivating themselves to do some form of exercise, walking is the easiest, cheapest thing you can do. There’s no training involved or even a learning period. All you have to do is go outside and walk.
A few tips…
- Get a Fitbit to help keep track of your steps. It’s especially helped me as a way to receive feedback on my daily progress and helps motivate me to walk a certain amount every day.
- Find a trail or an easy hike so you have a goal and a way to keep track of the distance with mile markers.
- Make a exercise playlist. Or listen to podcasts; there’s nothing like getting lost in a story and realizing you’ve walked for over an hour. A few podcasts to listen to: Modern Love, Criminal, My Favorite Murder
- Buy proper sneakers and ones that you enjoy showing off. 🙂 Some favorites: black, knit, bright, classic
- Set realistic goals for yourself, using an app to help. Or this app, that donates money to charity for every mile you walk, run, or bike.
- And if all else fails, adopt a dog to be your walking buddy. 🙂 #adoptdontshop
So in honor of the beautiful spring weather, go take a walk and enjoy the view!