Walking: Easiest and Best Exercise
20th July 2009 by Carol Posted in Uncategorized
There are things we know we all need to do: eat healthy, get enough sleep, exercise. Yet sometimes we set up our lives so that there are barriers to doing these things. For example, on January first we might decide we finally have to lose all that extra weight and we join a gym. Unfortunately, getting to the gym entails driving somewhere ten minutes, changing into exercise clothing, doing the exercises, taking a shower, and then driving back. At first we do this pretty well but then comes a time in life where we get busy. We don’t have time for a twenty-minute drive plus a twenty-minute change clothes take shower routine just for an hour of exercise and doing twenty minutes of exercise seems like a waste of effort. The gym, which sounded like such a good idea, has become a barrier.
Walking, in contrast, is basically an excuse-free form of exercise. Outside of walking shoes, the only really necessary equipment, this form of exercise can be accomplished almost anywhere while wearing almost anything. Some people bring walking shoes to the office and change into those at lunch time in order to get in a walk; they are wearing their business clothing. Other people may wear athletic clothing or they might just wear “every day at home” clothing.
Given that walking is so easy to do, one might imagine that it is not a terribly effective exercise. In fact, it is. It is relatively low impact and at the same time, a fast walk can burn almost as many calories as jogging. As a bonus, walking has been demonstrated to affect the brain in positive ways, causing the release of the chemicals that make us feel good.
There are several ways in which a good amount of walking can be accomplished. For example, if you park your car farther away from your destination or at the far end of the parking lot, you can get a small amount of walking in without having to think about it. The same principle applies for skipping the elevator when you need to go down one or two floors.
You can also set a timer for the amount of time you want to walk. Walk away from your house for half of that time and then turn around and walk home. Some people use a pedometer to keep track of their steps across the day and work their way up to 10,000 steps per day. Studies have shown that the Amish people, whose diet consists of all that wonderful food we feel we cannot eat, have a low rate of obesity in part because they walk between 14,000 and 18,000 steps per day.
If you want to get healthy and/or lose weight, remember that there will be times when motivation is a challenge. Choose a form of exercise that can be accomplished even when you are busy or tired and you will have greater success.