I’ve read countless articles and clicked many a post on the health benefits of walking, but, admittedly, I never took real action. I live in Chicago – without a car – and feel I walk more than the average person. Plus, my main form of cardio is running, and I naively assumed walking didn’t hold many of these benefits for someone as active as I was. Cocky, much?
I’m happy to say I have proved myself completely wrong! My new found love of walking started this fall, but arrived at a new level in the past month. There’s a new elevated walking/running/biking/rollerblading (yes, those are still a thing) path about a mile from my apartment and on nice days my friend and yogi, Leah , and I would walk and talk. I loved this time, but still viewed it as a little extra exercise. Nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t until I incorporated more walking into my daily life that I saw the light. The gym I train clients out of is 1.6 miles away, and a handful of clients are within 2 miles, so I started playing a podcast as I walked to and from sessions. Game-changer!
The benefits I’ve felt aren’t those you always read about; lower blood pressure, increase in bone strength, and lower blood cholesterol, although those things are surely happening. No, what I’ve noticed is a peacefulness and positivity that spills into my day.
My go-to podcast as of late is Wellprenuer, a business podcast for wellness entrepreneurs (clearly this is a niche market), and listening to it while walking I am almost overwhelmed with directions to take my business! It’s empowering and insightful and my mind is wandering the whole walk with ways to bring positive change to my clients lives. I also problem solve during walks. Whether it’s coming up with a solution to schedule conflicts, what to say to a client who has a tough question, or simply what to make for dinner, I come home with – at minimum – a place to start.
Relax, Walk to It
Walking is an amazing de-stressor. Just being outside gives you instant relief. That feeling of being cooped up between walls disappears and the fresh air is energizing. Even just walking the dog for 15 minutes, I feel revitalized and ready to start whatever I may have been putting off (ahem, this blog post). Without screens in my face, I can get lost in my thoughts. It’s no wonder walking reduces blood pressure!
Enjoy the Ride
Road rage is a real thing, brought on by commuting. Hustling to the bus and cramming in between people who either have a cold or are arguing into their phone, is not an enjoyable way to get anywhere. When I walk places I actually enjoy my commute. For one, I know I will get to my destination XX minutes after I leave. There’s no chance of missing a bus, not finding parking, or sitting in traffic. Guess I could file that under “de-stressor” as well! I also have time to call people – i.e. my mom – and talk with no distraction.
But how can you fit in walking when you can’t walk to work or don’t live in a highly walkable area?
Short and Sweet
You don’t need a 45 minute walk to reap the benefits, just 15 minutes can do wonders to your mood, and physical health. Do figure 8s around your neighborhood a few times or use MapMyWalk.com to map a route and find routes in your area that others have mapped.
Build it into your Day
To make walking a habit, it needs to align with things you already do nearly every day. Walking on your lunch break and after dinner on weekdays, for as little as 10 minutes increases your activity over an hour and a half each week. It all counts. Is the bank, gym or convenience store under a mile away? Walk there! Once it’s routine you won’t debate if you should walk or drive, it’s just something you do.
Bring a Buddy
Be it a podcast, friend, spouse or child, walking is the perfect way to spend time with someone or catchup on your favorite episode of Serial (IT’S BACK, YOU GUYS!!) Even walking on a treadmill can be entertaining when you’re lost in a show or next to a friend.
Disclaimer: Use separate treadmills!
So, there you have it. You can reap mental and physical benefits of walking EVERYDAY, no matter where you live, or how busy you think you are. Build it into your day and you’re suddenly multitasking! Happy trails!