In early 2020, you may have noticed that the entire world went off its axis. Words like “social distancing”, “self-quarantine”, and “novel coronavirus” became things we say now, and it’s probably going to be a long time before things ever return to some semblance of normal. Whatever that was.
We need to constantly be vigilant about our health, and experts agree that one easy way to do that is to wear a mask in public. Another thing that has become part of everyday life, the face mask, has become something of a bone of contention among people. Wear one, don’t wear one… I don’t know what the right answer is, but I do wear one in public. Not just for me but those around me. Unfortunately, that means I can’t run as well. In fact, I’m not a very claustrophobic person, but I experience a very real sense of panic when I can’t catch my breath with a face mask on.
That made running stressful, and counterproductive, so I started walking instead. And you know something? It gets me to where I want to go, literally and figuratively. It may even be better for me at this point than running since I’ve been a runner for about 25 years.
It’s been more than 6 months now since I started walking 4-5 miles daily, and I’m experiencing a ton of benefits from it. Not the least of which is that I almost never need a rest day, so there’s no stopping and starting my routine. It has become a constant in my life, a sweet morning treat, and that’s just one of its many gifts. Here are several more.
They say that a tired dog is a happy dog, and that’s true for us too. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you’re just not using your body to its potential. You may experience poor sleep because of too much unspent energy, because of sore muscles and joints from lack of use, or any number of other reasons. People who exercise regularly sleep better, this is almost universally true. A daily fitness walk helps to support healthy hormone levels, and one of those hormones is melatonin… the sleep hormone.
Unlike running, walking is very low impact. And while your joints don’t love to be pounded, they do love to be taken through their full range of motion and gently challenged. Your joints don’t have any way of cleaning themselves. The way to get the gunk out of your joints and keep them running smoothly is simply by moving them. Synovial fluid lubricates them and keeps them happy.
Walking utilizes the abdominal muscles and deep core muscles in healthy ways that support proper digestion. In other words… a morning walk doesn’t just get you moving, it gets lots of things moving. If you feel me.
Regular walking has been shown to improve the body’s response to insulin, so one of the first things you may notice is that you lose belly fat quickly. When things start to come into balance for you, your body is going to start releasing what is no longer served by the imbalance. So, bye belly.
Walking prevents muscle loss, which becomes increasingly important as we age. Couple that with its low impact nature and ability to increase metabolism, and you can begin to see why walking for fitness can really change your body composition for the better. And keep it that way as you get older.
With walking, as with any exercise, you’ll notice that eventually you reach plateaus. You can switch things up and keep the internal incinerator on “high” by adding hills, alternating the pace of your walk, and sprinkling exercises like planks and lunges throughout.
Fitness walking will definitely turn that frown upside down. Not only will you get a quick blast of feel-good endorphins starting from day 1, behind the scenes you’ll actually be changing your nervous system in some key ways. Bye-bye anger and hostility, hello hakuna matata.
As a very solitary person, it’s hard for me to be social. But I often walk with a buddy, and this hour of “forced” interaction every morning helps me to feel more connected to the outside world. I feel more social, even if I am not being that much more social. I feel like I could hang out, a lot more of the time, and that’s saying a lot.
Great For A Creative Boost
As a writer, when I’m not in a good creative flow, it can be tough. And because I depend on my creativity to feed me and pay my bills, I need meaningful hacks for accessing my creative side when she’s hiding from me. The surefire trick every time? A walk with doggo. Just 10 minutes at any time of day is helpful, but I have noticed that my daily morning walk seems to result in a pretty constant creative flow these days. This pleases me.
Good Habits Make For More Good Habits
It’s true for any workout routine or self-care habit: self-love begets self-love. The more you walk, the more you’ll want to fuel your body with the best foods, the more you’ll want to sleep 8 hours, the less TV you’ll want to watch because the more you’ll want to stretch (OK maybe), and so on.
As a yoga teacher, I have been known to tell people that so much of my teaching focuses on physical practices like asana and breathing because I don’t feel I should be responsible for your spiritual development. As your body becomes happier, the mind falls in line, and the questions (your questions) come naturally. The ways you continue on your own path of personal and spiritual development are your own… the ways you create more of what you want… are whatever you want them to be. It can start with walking.
Improved Function Of Systems
As I mentioned, walking helps create a happy balance in your life and body in a number of ways. It sharpens your response to insulin and promotes better melatonin production to help you sleep. Walking gives you that endorphin boost that all exercise does, and it improves digestion too.
Thanks to its ability to lower blood sugar levels, walking can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition to that, lowered stress means better blood pressure, and a 30% lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.
How will walking change you? Find out for yourself in as little as 30 minutes, 3 times per week. It’s so easy a toddler can do it, and I can all but guarantee you’ll be impressed with what results!
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