Several times in the last week I’ve had clients say to me (in various forms), “I just can’t seem to get out for a run or do a workout…so I’ve just been walking.”
This is usually said with a tone of guilt and an air of “not-enough-ness” that breaks my heart.
My response is always … “Don’t just yourself! Walking is awesome! It’s more than enough and for many reasons it may be perfect form of movement for you (and many others)! But most importantly you’re moving your body – and that’s what counts!”
In fact, just this past week walking was highlighted in this CBC article for its powerful health benefits and its contribution to longevity and quality of life!
And here’s what I really want you to hear: walking is awesome (really). It’s a great low impact way to kick up your heart rate and respiratory rate into a moderate to vigorous intensity and get you into the health benefit zone for physical activity. And there’s more….
Here are some of the other reasons I love walking:
- Walking is accessible! Pop on your shoes and you’re ready to go!
- It’s one of the most inclusive activities! You can include most kids and other family members of all ages and abilities.
- You can go at whatever pace works for you and your body – and be responsive to your daily energy levels (it’s normal to feel a fluctuation with all the stressors of real life – pandemic or no pandemic).
- There’s no fancy equipment required. Just a good pair of shoes and you’re good to go (PS. if you’re local Frontrunners Nanaimo. Not local? Consider going to your local walking/ running store and support local!).
- You can keep it lower intensity by walking a flatter route at a slower pace OR you can amp things up by finding a hilly route (or walking repeats on a hill).
- All terrain is good terrain! You can take to the city streets OR head into the woods (just make sure you’re maintaining physical distance). Bonus by heading to the trails you’re getting the benefit of “green exercise.” Studies show that “green exercise” (aka exercising outside) can have positive effects on self-esteem and improve your mood, and the effect is especially noticed in people with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
- It’s a moving meditation. Because there’s not any real “skill” required for walking, you can really let your mind focus elsewhere. Plus the rhythmic nature of the walking stride encourages our brains to settle. Try using a mantra as you walk. One of my faves is “om gan ganpataye namah.” This mantra is a chant to Ganesh (the remover of obstacles), and loosely translates to “salutations to the remover of obstacles.” I’m not sure about you but I think most of us could use some removing of obstacles (now and always).
Need some inspiration to get moving? Here are some of the ways I amp up the JOY in my walks:
- Phone a friend. This my friends is a serious #pandemicwin. I have lots of clients who have regular “walk dates” with friends and family who live afar (how cool is that?!). Both walk, and plug into your headset and walk away – together (but apart). I have one client who goes on epic long walks with her sister and along they way they snap pics and text them to one another so it’s like they’re together!
- Wear clothing that keeps you comfy. There’s nothing more joy-killing than being too cold/ wet. Depending on your climate, adjust your clothing to be as comfortable as you can! West-coasters, at some point just commit to getting wet and embrace it. For more WE(s)T coast tips check out this blog (it calls out wet running, but it all applies to walking too!).
- Listen to a great podcast or audiobook. I’ve actually walked further on the regular because I wanted to keep listening (winning!).
- Music is magic! Clearly this is obvious but a great playlist with some upbeat tunes goes a long way. You can find a few Super You lists on Spotify by searching for “User: Gillian Goerzen.” My fave go-to is my long run playlist (I use it for walks and runs)!
- Make it social (but physically distant). Make a point of saying hello or waving at every single person you pass. This will increase your sense of community and connection (plus it feels very 1950’s and kinda awesome).
Set a daily “lower limit” of walking for for a certain number of minutes per day. Make that your non-negotiable. If you walk longer, awesome. If not, aOK! Over time see if you can build this lower limit to 30-minutes per day or about 150-minutes per week (cumulative). 150-minutes per week gets you into the recommended range of physical activity for overall health and well-being. Plus if you hit 30-minutes per day, you’ll hit that sweet spot of daily movement that triggers mental health benefits (hello, win!). Don’t forget to stretch after each walk. You can use this follow along video for guidance.
Walking is awesome, and so are YOU! Just do it – don’t “just” it.
Need some more support? If you’re looking to ditch the old beliefs that tell you walking isn’t “enough,” you also might really enjoy the Super You Mindset. This virtual on-demand Health + Fitness Un-program is all about ditching Diet Culture and reclaiming health – on your terms. It’s 100% virtual and self-paced so you can learn at your own pace. Find out more here. Whatever you do…Move your Awesome Body…YOUR way.