5 Reasons YOU Should Start Walking Today
Advice urging us to exercise, exercise, exercise is a constant drumbeat in the background of most health advice today. It's good advice, of course. As our jobs and lifestyles have changed over the past few decades, we've come to a point where most of us get a fraction of the exercise we need.
There's another message woven through much of this advice, though. It's seldom stated outright but the subliminal cues are there. It's the idea that "exercise" has to some sort of special project that you take time out for.
You might not notice it, but there's a real bias toward "commercial" types of exercise. There's a subtle message that if you're not going to a gym or maybe running, you're not "really" exercising. There are tons of articles and blog posts on the importance of making time for exercise or how to carve an hour out of your busy day to get some gym time in.
But you shouldn't have to make an appointment for exercise. And you don't need a pricey gym membership either. You already have the perfect workout equipment. It doesn't cost you any money, you can use it all year round in any weather, and you don't have to drive across town to get to it. All you have to do is slip on a pair of shoes and get moving.
I'm talking about walking, of course. It won't build bulging biceps, and it won't create "rock hard abs"—and if your abs or any other muscles really are rock hard you probably need a massage—but for pure unadulterated health benefits, plain old walking is still some of the best exercise there is. Here are 5 reasons why walking is the perfect fitness choice for you.
You don't have to set aside extra time for it
There's not enough time in the day as it is for most of us, and having to set aside a specific time to exercise is often a guarantee that we won't get around to it. You don't have to pick a special time to walk, though. You can work it into your normal routine with very little effort. Here's how:
When you're going fairly short distances, start walking rather than driving. If it's only a few blocks to work, walk instead. If you're popping into the store for a handful of items and you don't live too far away, walk. If you have longer distances to travel, park a little farther away than you normally would and walk the extra distance. And when you're indoors, choose stairs over elevators. It's amazing how much walking you can get in with very little adjustment.
You don't need special equipment
You probably already have the only things you need in order to start walking: your feet, your legs, and a pair of decent shoes. Although there are plenty of shoes specifically marketed as "walking shoes," you don't have to invest in any specialty shoe. Tennis shoes serve the purpose admirably, and other shoes may fit the bill as well. The important things are that they support your arch, have thick soles that will absorb the shock of your steps, and that they fit properly and don't slide around on your foot. (Flip-flops are NEVER appropriate for walking, even in the summer!)
You don't have to be a spring chicken to do it
Unless you're 25 or a masochist, standard gym equipment might look like torture chamber equipment. And quite frankly, you can really injure yourself with a lot of it even if you are 25. Walking is suitable for people of all ages, from two to ninety-two; all you have to do is adjust your pace and how far you walk.
You won't get sweaty and gross
Having to take time out to go to the gym is inconvenience enough. Having to take even more time to shower, change clothes, and do sweaty laundry is even worse. Unless it's a hundred and two degrees, though, you're probably not going to break a sweat walking. That means you're a lot more likely to fit it into your day and stick to it.
It's actually enjoyable
Sure, there are people who actually enjoy working out 'til their muscles feel like Jello, but the fact is that most of us would rather not. If exercise feels like work, it's a good bet that most of us aren't going to stick with it. That's one of the best things about walking—if you don't constantly remind yourself that "you're exercising," you'll never know it. You can go for a nature walk, explore new parts of your city, or just get a different perspective than you have when you're driving through an area. Walking can change your perspective on your world.
Exercise fads come and go, and the hot technique of today often becomes tomorrow's big no-no. Walking, however, is a solid form of exercise that isn't going anywhere…other than where your feet take you. It helps lower your blood pressure, cuts your risk of heart disease, helps you lose weight, and even strengthens bones. But the most attractive thing about walking for exercise is this: it doesn't feel like exercise. And that means you're more likely to stick with it.
Whenever someone asks me what kind of exercise program I recommend I tell them "The kind you'll actually do." Walking fits the bill.
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