“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
- Benefits of Walking
- Best Time of Day to Walk
- Walking Preparation
- Post Walk
I think the band The Proclaimers say it best in their song, “I’m Gonna Be”, when it comes to the topic of walking:
“When I come home (when I come home), oh, I know I’m gonna be I’m gonna be the man who comes back home to you And if I grow old, well, I know I’m gonna be I’m gonna be the man who’s growin’ old with you
But I would walk five hundred miles And I would walk five hundred more Just to be the man who walked a thousand Miles to fall down at your door”
If you have 3 extra minutes and are feeling nostalgic for the late 1980’s, here is the link to the full song “I’m Gonna Be” by The Proclaimers.
As we mention in the article, “What Makes Movement So Important?”, 10,000 steps (or 500 miles) should not necessarily be the goal for measuring our walking and fitness. Rather, we just need to get more movement in general.
Walking can be one of the easiest ways to accomplish this as it’s low impact.
Benefits of Walking
The first thing to address is some of the benefits of walking.
Walking is a great example of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is cardiovascular conditioning that strengthens both your heart and lungs. The word “aerobic” means “with oxygen,” as this kind of exercise is fueled by the oxygen that you get from breathing (Sachdev).
- Grow the Hippocampus (the part of the brain associated with memory and learning)
According to a study conducted at the University of British Columbia (Liu), the brain’s information-processing capacity and memory improve with just 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day (Lee).
- Help us to maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and type 2 diabetes
- Improve cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve muscle endurance
- Increase energy levels
- Improve your mood, cognition, memory and sleep
- Improve your balance and coordination
- Strengthen immune system
- Reduce stress and tension (Mayo Clinic) Many of us know that we feel better from our head to our toes after walking. Based upon the reasons listed above, we now know why that is.
Walking is an underrated form of movement that, if added to our weekly or daily routines, would help many of the issues we deal with.
Best Time of Day to Walk
How about the best time of day to walk?
The best answer is anytime that works within your schedule. However, if you are wanting to knock out a few birds with one walk, then here are some suggestions to build a walking routine around.
1. Work some steps into calls/meetings.
Take a call while walking around the neighborhood with a long distant family member.
Maybe you have a regular meeting you are a part of, but you are not the main presenter or host? Take it while walking!
2. Walk in the morning and get some sunlight, simultaneously.
Regular morning light exposure helps set our body clock/circadian rhythm.
Morning light will help us both wake up and help us sleep later that evening. Be sure to walk and get some sun exposure at the same time!
3. Make walking fun again.
If you’re addicted to caffeine and have to have your coffee every morning, put it in a to-go mug and drink it while walking.
At the same time, listen to music, podcasts etc. during your walk!
Go walk at the park, a trail, or any place that has enjoyable scenery.
I grew up in the plains of the midwest, so great scenery was hard to come by - but if you love wheat and corn fields, go walk near those!
4. Prepare for your walk the night before.
Put your walking clothes out on the floor the night before. This will help you mentally get ready the night before to hit the ground running (or walking) in the morning.
Get your coffee mug out the night before, water bottle, headphones, and any other items needed to make your walk enjoyable!
5. Get comfortable and good walking shoes.
Stay away from walking in heels, boots, dress shoes, etc. This may sound obvious, but, as I’m sure you know, people can surprise us!
6. Prepare your body.
Do some light stretching for 3-5 minutes before your walk. This should include:
- Hamstring stretches
- Quad stretches
- Upper body stretches
- Calf stretching
7. Post walk.
Repeat your pre-walk stretching routine and grab some water to ensure hydration.
As you sprinkle in some of these suggestions into your day/week, start small. See what you like and increase walking time or distance as you see fit.
Use these tips and the knowledge of how walking is beneficial to your advantage!
If you’re an executive who needs to stimulate some creative problem solving, getting out of the office and walking might spark some new ideas.
If you’re anyone feeling tired or sluggish, an afternoon stroll might wake you up and give you energy.
Perhaps over the course of a year or two, you may hit The Proclaimers level of 500 miles or more!