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The benefits of walking (the superfood of exercise).
I remember the days when unless I panted and sweated like a crazy person my movement couldn't possibly be considered exercise. So I ran a lot, regardless of how my body felt. As with many areas of my life pre chronic illness, I pushed and pushed until eventually I ran out of steam and could move no more. What followed was a battle of wills - and a very slow and oft frustrating process of finding peace with more gentle forms of exercise.
These days I walk and thankfully I now do so with joy.
You see, there's just something so natural, so intuitive, and so grounding about walking, don't you think?
I'm grateful for the Internet (without it I couldn't be about to chat with you now) but it's certainly added a lot of complexity and distraction to our daily lives. It's no wonder then that some of the best solutions to improve our health are often those that are simple and accessible - it's a matter of going back to basics. Walking is no different.
Your body was designed to reap the benefits of walking. It's been improving our health since humans first walked the Earth (pun very much intended). It's a powerful daily activity with effects that will reverberate throughout your entire body long afterwards.
Walking is a superfood. It's the defining movement of a human - Katy Bowman
Which areas of health, energy and wellness does regular walking enhance? Try all of them.
The benefits of walking
Here's a snapshot of why walking is so good for you:
- Boosts your energy levels – regular walking increases blood circulation and improves your cardiovascular fitness. The more walking you do each day, the more you'll be surprised by how much it energises you in between.
- Extends your life – 20 minutes of walking a day has a measurable effect on the anti-aging process making you look and feel younger. Studies have shown it to extend your life for 3-7 years. That's a lot more time with your loved ones.
- Raises your mood – daily walking reduces the biological processes that create depression, anxiety and overthinking. It literally makes you happy.
- Helps you think clearly – brain fog is the worst. Regular walking protects the brain region associated with memory and planning, and shifts you into a more relaxed, meditative state to access thoughts and construct ideas more clearly.
- Lowers a tonne of health risks – Walking significantly lowers the risk of heart and lung disease, strokes, arthritis, dementia, blood pressure issues and diabetes (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!)
- Increases strength and fitness – As well as greatly improving your general strength and endurance, regular walking attracts all of the awesome benefits of exercise.
*gasps for breath*
It's very easy to include walking in your day right now
The best benefits of walking are experienced when you walk for an equivalent of 20 minutes a day - which you can do in a variety of ways.
Anytime you need to get from one place to another and usually use a car, a bus or a train, get off a few blocks early and walk some of the distance (or all of it if it's safe). While it might take longer, it will refresh, revitalise and enhance your mood for the rest of the day. Alternatively, go for a dedicated walk - take your dog, listen to some music or a podcast, and go walking wherever takes your fancy. Personally, I use my afternoon walk as an excuse to walk Wilson AND to collect fresh produce for dinner. As a result I have become a more frequent weekly shopper. It enables me to eat super fresh produce and better manage potential waste by purchasing smaller quantities.
The best thing about walking (apart from all the aforementioned benefits) is that it's completely free - you've already got all of the equipment you need and you can do it anywhere, anytime. There's no costly gym membership or class; there's no kettlebell to be lugged about. You can simply incorporate into your regular day, for free. It's no wonder then that my car is now of negligible use.
An added bonus: since you typically don't get hot and sweaty, you don't always need to shower and take a bag of clothes to change into after.
Have you too finally found peace with walking? What tips could you share to inspire others to incorporate it into their day?