Walking is a non-intimidating form of cardio exercise that everyone can do. You don’t have to be a coordinated athlete or a marathoner to get this dose of cardio. A daily 30 minute walk improves circulation and loosens stiff joints. When coupled with healthy eating and a healthy emotional lifestyle, walking can improve our overall mental and physical well-being.
As runners, we often think walking is boring, slow, or not a sufficient enough cardio workout. However, walking is one of them most underrated exercises. It’s cheap, it’s mind clearing, it gets us outside, and it improves cardiovascular health. It’s a great shake out for the legs on a rest day, and it’s something you can pull friends or family into.
Here’s 4 reasons why walking is a great workout and everyone should do it:
You can walk anywhere.
You can step outside your house and walk down the street, walk down the sidewalk, or walk to work. If the rough terrain of a single track trail is too much to handle on a run, walk the trail instead. Need more of a cardio challenge? Find a trail with a big hill and walk up and down it a few times. This can be a great chance to work on your power hiking for a long trail race. However, if fresh air is not your thing, you can walk on a treadmill and catch up on your favorite show.
Walking increases mental peace.
One of the worst things we can do to our body and minds is sit all day. Stepping outside of a florescent-lit office and walking 30 minutes during a lunch break allows your mind to clear itself and your eyes and brain to take a rest. Plus, the exercise releases endorphins and serotonin to give you a natural high, often helping solve complicated work problems or restoring a positive attitude.
Walking provides time to connect.
Catch up with a friend by inviting them on a short walk after work or before you pick up the kids from school. After dinner, connect with the family on a short walk to easy your bellies after a full meal. All of you will reap the health benefits of exercise without the boredom of suffering alone.
Are you an introvert? Download your favorite podcasts and listen while you walk. But always stay alert of your surroundings when walking (or running) with headphones.
Walking provides a cardiovascular workout.
Many runners scoff at walking, however walking can ramp up your heart rate just as much as a slower tempo run. Walk for 30 minutes to an hour on a trail and work on your pace and stride. Pick a hilly route to push your quads and glutes. Still too easy? Try mixing in strength training exercises. Walk near a local park and add in squats and lunges. Use a bench for tricep dips and pushups or a playground bar for pull-ups. Challenge yourself!
Of course, with all athletic activities, we recommend you wear the right shoes. Many people stop exercising because of foot pain. Get fitted at your local running store for shoes that support your arch and allow your toes to move and operate like they were made to! Remember to replace your shoes after 4-6 months, so that you can keep on walking.
Now go explore a new part of town on a walk!
Enjoy National WALKING Day!