We were born to walk. Our bodies are constructed that way. The benefits of carving out time to walk are numerous, such as stimulating our respiratory and circulatory systems, as well as promoting creative thought. But many of us don’t allot the time.
The hype over the years about the importance of exercising at least three times per week is understated. Exercise is a form of exaggerated activity which adds stress to our muscles, bones, and our internal systems. Our bodies operate better with moderate and consistent stress when we stretch our system to ‘slightly uncomfortable’ for short periods seven days a week.
For those not consistently active (performing exaggerated activity), starting a walking habit would be what your doctor might order. And this habit started, over time, may just fix other things that need fixing.
Consistent exaggerated activity is more important than job, career, family (children) and friends, because without good health, you would be doing all of them a disservice. If you don’t have an hour a day to dedicate to yourself and your own long-term well being, then your priorities may be in disorder.
Notes on starting a walking habit:
- Make a date to walk every day, preferably in the morning before breakfast.
- Commit to at least three months for the habit to stick.
- Walk rain or shine.
- Make it an exaggerated activity, not just a casual walk.
- Make it entertaining, listen to music or language tapes, or books on tape, or the birds.
- Wear a watch and time yourself. Try to improve your time/distance ratio a little faster each week.
- Get to the point where you are swinging your arms, feeling the gluts pulling.
- Pay attention to posture. Keep shoulders back and pull stomach in, chest out.
- Pay attention to your breathe and breath as deep as comfortably possible.
- Walk for a minimum of 20-40 minutes.
- Once per week walk for longer, two hours if possible.
- Control the voice that will inevitably try its hardest to rationalize why you don’t need to walk on certain days.
- Drink eight ounces of water after your wake up and before your walk.
- Eat breakfast after the walk.
Morning walks are ideal as a stimulation for the day. Your exercise will be behind you with less of a possibility that you’ll rationalize your way out. But caution: early morning walks could get you hooked on sunrises, which may have you heading to bed earlier.
After walking becomes a habit, if you are not completely addicted, you can add variables to keep the habit interesting, like short bursts of running for 10-30 seconds every few minutes, or spurts of walking backwards, or lightly jogging backwards.
No doubt most people are sufficiently active for their own long-term well-being. But if doubt is lingering somewhere around shoulder height, you could banish that suspicion by starting a walking habit.