If you’d said to add walking to my exercise plan a year ago I probably would’ve laughed because I never really counted it as a workout. I was always one of those people who had to be dripping with sweat for it to class as a form of ‘real’ exercise.
But over the past six months I have been approaching things slightly differently. I still have my crazy badass sessions in the gym (because I absolutely love them), but yoga and walking are now regular features in my weekly routine and I definitely feel like I’ve got a much more balanced approach to fitness.
We live in a fast-paced world where we are expected to be ‘switched on’ 24/7 and although I get a serious kick out of doing high intensity exercise and spend most of my time jumping around like a hyperactive child, a few months ago I realised that my body was telling me to slow down.
It is possible to overdo it with exercise (if you didn’t already know) and as I have a naturally competitive nature (mostly with myself) I tend to fall into the trap of fitting in as much as I physically can most weeks. I’m sure I’m not the only one!
So I started walking more. At first it felt pointless and like I wouldn’t benefit from it as far as exercise (I won’t lie), but after about ten minutes I realised how great it felt to be casually enjoying the fresh air and my concerns about whether I would or wouldn’t achieve DOMS the next day faded away.
I tend to walk either on the beach or along coastal paths, simply because it gives me a beautiful view to enjoy while I walk. I’m very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place so I make the most of it. But a nearby park or woods would be perfect too!
Walking is the perfect time to just be alone with your thoughts because we don’t really tend to spend much time doing that in this day and age. Wow, I sounded like my mum then! It’s true though. Very few of us regularly take time out to ‘switch off’ technology and enjoy the moment, and as someone who sits in front of a laptop screen most days writing articles, I was definitely guilty of not taking enough time away from technology before.
Sometimes I go walking with my son, sometimes I go alone, but either way it’s clear my body and mind appreciates me taking things a little slower at times as I’m recovering much quicker from my workouts than I used to. My body isn’t struggling with it all anymore. Believe it or not, you don’t have to always be training as hard as you physically can!
Walking is a great form of exercise and I love how easy it is to alter the intensity – you simply speed up or slow down and you can even find some hills to add in to your walk if you fancy giving yourself that little extra challenge. I think it’s a great thing to do when you want to take some time off working out at a high intensity while still remaining active. What I tend to do is go for a nice long walk on the same day each week that I attend a yoga class and I love it because I feel particularly chilled on that day.
As well as making you feel generally refreshed, regular walking has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. To get the health benefits from walking, your pace needs to be at a moderate intensity though – so faster than you would typically stroll around a shop while browsing the clothes. 😉
But you don’t have to be full on going for it. I occasionally stop and play with a few of my calisthenics training things too! I basically just listen to my body while walking and see what it feels like doing.
One of the most important things to sort out before you go walking is to find some trainers or shoes that are comfortable. The last thing you want is to get blisters and have to stop!
I definitely recommend adding walking into your exercise plan and taking at least one day a week at a slower pace to give your body a chance to chill while still staying active. I’m not the only personal trainer I know who has decided to slow things down for at least one day a week (as well as having a full rest day) – things are clearly moving away from the old ‘go hard or go home’ mentality. It’s more about taking care of your body and that is what ultimately matters.
The best part – walking is suitable for any age and it’s free!