I used to enjoy running. In fact, I would go to the local school’s track multiple times a week after work. Well, I ended up requiring surgery on my foot and I haven’t been able to run without pain since. Over the last few years, I’ve come to quite enjoy taking walks. These walks allow me to get out in nature, free my mind from any intrusive thoughts, and get some good exercise in as well!
When you think about walking, you might be picturing a leisurely stroll. When I walk, I make sure it is with purpose. I try to keep my heart rate up, and my goal is anywhere from one to three miles at a time. To track my progress, I use the Garmin Vivoactive 4s. I like to think of my walks as a meditation as opposed to a workout, that way my brain thinks I’m doing something fun and not monotonous!
Benefits of Walking
Studies show that walking for a minimum of 30 minutes per day for five days reduces your risk of heart disease by 19%. Walking also shows promise for boosting your immune system (this is especially true for nature walks).
Mental health benefits of reducing anxiety and depression are being studied, but from my own personal experience, walking helps in reducing these feelings because you’re distracting your mind! Again, I emphasize the importance of walking in nature versus a treadmill!
Walking is a great cardiovascular workout and a nice option in lieu of running (I know most people cringe at the thought of going on a run). I try to walk at a pace of 2.5-3 mph or 1.5 miles every 30 minutes. Again, I use my Garmin to track my pace, time, etc.
Everyone burns calories at a different pace. This is all dependent on weight, height, pace, incline, and more. The easiest way to figure out an estimated amount of calories burned (aside from using a fitness tracker) is a calculator. I like this one: https://www.omnicalculator.com/sports/walking-calorie
The more info you input into the calculator, the more accurate the reading!
How to Start
Start slowly! You don’t want to burn yourself out on the first day. When I started, my goal was to hit a mile. I did this three times a week at a moderate pace. Now, I switch it up with longer/shorter walks throughout the week. I also like to change up where I’m walking so I get incline some days and flat surfaces others. When I am feeling completely unmotivated, I hit the treadmill on an incline. This is also very helpful for days when the weather just isn’t cooperating.
Set a goal! For me, setting a goal before I begin walking helps me visualize an endpoint. Most of the time, I continue walking after I’ve hit my goal which makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something!
Don’t sit down! When I get home from work, I immediately change into my workout clothes. Once I’ve had a moment to decompress, I leave for my walk. NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DO I SIT DOWN FIRST! If I sit down, even for a second, I am at least 75% less likely to get up and complete a walk or a workout. Get it done right when you get home from work, if, of course, you don’t have other pressing matters to attend to first.
Let your mind wander! Thinking about the task at hand will make it feel like you’ve been walking for hours when it’s only been five minutes. Allowing your thoughts to wander while walking not only passes the time, but helps to release stress from the day.
Most importantly, have fun! Fitness should be fun, not tedious. Don’t allow your walks to turn into a chore. Include friends, family members, or pets. Call a friend while walking. Force your spouse to go with you! Anything to break up the feeling of monotony!
I hope you will take some of these tips and start your walking journey! Walking has definitely changed my after-work routine for the better! Enjoy.