My wife recently asked me, “if you could give someone one piece of fitness advice, what would it be?”
My answer? Go for a walk everyday, for at least 30 minutes.
Just like all types of exercise, walking has numerous, scientifically documented benefits to our health. Regular walking has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer. In the book The Blue Zone Solution, which documents the lifestyles of 5 areas in the world where people routinely live to be 100 years old, the popular mode of transportation for centenarians is, you guessed it, walking.
In addition to these physical benefits, walking also has mental health benefits. Research has shown that walking, especially in nature, has been found to reduce stress and anxiety. In his essay Walking, Henry David Thoreau said “When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest woods.” A walk in nature can be a refreshment for the mind and soul.
How can you get 30 minutes of walking in each day? Here are some suggestions:
- Get a FitBit or other step tracker – Seeing how many steps you’ve taken in a day can motivate you to get up and go for a walk. I know it helped me get in more walks.
- Take three 10 minute walk breaks – do you work in an office? Take three different 10 minute walk breaks throughout the day. Walk around the parking lot if you have to. Don’t feel like taking a walk break is slacking off either. One of my favorite quotes from Thoreau in Walking is “He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all.” Going for a walk break will help re-energize your mind so you can focus on your work.
- On the weekend, go to a park… – In Columbia, there are a number of beautiful parks and forests close by that can get you back to nature. There are 350 miles of trails to walk as part of the Palmetto Trail. My favorites include Riverfront Park, Congaree National Park, and Harbison State Forest. Why not look for a trail or forest near you? Take some time to go to one of these fantastic trails and go for a leisurely walk one Saturday or Sunday.
- …or go to the park after work – In his book Microadventures, professional adventurer Alastair Humphreys advocates filling the time between working hours (5pm to 9am) with adventure. Why not go to a nearby trail for a hike right after work? If you’ve had an especially stressful day, getting out into nature will help the stress melt away.
What are some of the ways you’ve fit regular walks into your schedule? Share your ideas in the comments below.
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