Benefits of Walking!
Why you can quit slamming walking – it’s awesome and so are you!
This guest post on the benefits of walking is from Gillian Goerzen, BSc (kin), BCRPA PT, GF, YFL
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 right now! But most importantly you’re moving your body – and that’s what counts!”
When it comes to movement, we may need to adjust our expectations around movement especially during challenging or stressful times. Everyone responds to stress differently. And we need to give ourselves a wide berth of grace to navigate stressful waters in a way that best serves us. That might mean you need more rest and to take a pause on more intense activity. That’s ok!
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 benefits of walking:
- Walking is accessible! Pop on your shoes and you’re ready to go!
- It’s inclusive! You can include 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 during times of stress).
- There’s no fancy equipment required. Just a good pair of shoes and you’re good to go
- 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. 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 during stressful times I can use some removing of obstacles.
Need some inspiration to get moving? Here are some of the ways I amp up the JOY in my walks:
- Count something – blooming trees, flowers…or cats! I have a client who goes for “cat walks” – she’s a cat lover who doesn’t own a cat. So by looking for cats on her walk she increases her accountability and JOY!
- Phone a friend. We may not be able to walk with our buddies – but we can walk and talk with them. Both walk, and plug into your headset and walk away – together (but apart).
- Listen to a great podcast or audiobook. I’ve actually walked further because I wanted to keep listening to a good audiobook (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 of my 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).
Final pro tip on the benefits of walking
Aim to set a daily “lower limit” of walking for 30-minutes per day. Over the week that means you’ll far exceed the recommended 150-minutes of physical activity for overall health and well-being and you’ll hit that sweet spot of daily movement that triggers mental health benefits (hello, win!).
Whatever you do, don’t “just” it.
Walking is awesome, and so are YOU!
Gillian Goerzen is a Body Positive Health and Fitness Coach with a passion for helping women create a healthy lifestyle they love free from guilt and shame. Grounded in the HAES® (Health at Every Size) philosophy Gillian helps clients rediscover their JOY for movement and genuine enthusiasm for building health habits that stick – for good! You can learn more about Gillian and her online Body Positive Fitness Studio and Community at www.superyoustudio.com
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