Walking for Health
Earlier this year, as the temperatures began to rise and Spring poked its head out, Benedict and I started seeing more and more residents along our street spending time outside. Some were just sitting on their porches, others were doing yard work, and still others were playing with their kids. More than a few came up and talked to us, for the first time, and noted how much they enjoyed seeing us out and about, even in the bitter cold winter months. As it turns out, Benedict and I are well known in our neighborhood.
My preferred form of exercise used to be running. I liked challenging myself and trying to beat personal bests. About 3 years ago I converted to walking for health after developing IT band syndrome. What I learned about the benefits of walking surprised me. Walking regularly can have the same positive benefits on heart health as running. Even more exciting, regular walking (10,000+ steps per day) leads to weight loss. As it turns out, excellent exercise doesn't have to be unpleasant.
The average American walks around 3-4,000 steps per day. Generally speaking, 10,000 steps per day or more would describe an active adult. I use a Fitbit to track my steps (and compete against friends and family) and it helps me not only measure my daily progress, but it encourages me to keep moving. When I'm actively working towards an exercise goal, I won't sleep until I hit my daily step goal.
While walking does take more time than other forms of exercising, it can be just as interesting. You can explore your neighborhood and community by using varied routes. Keep things interesting by having routes that span different distances so that on days when you don't need as many steps, you can shorten your workout. On other days when you've got all the time in the world, you can get in a few more steps.
Walking can be fun. I've already mentioned the competition feature with Fitbit, but even a comparison for yourself between last week and this week can be fun. Use this time to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. Take your wife or your kids with you. Look at the architecture of different homes and plan to build your dream home. Stop in at yard sales and keep your eyes pealed for good deals on used cars. Exercise doesn't have to be boring or tedious. In fact, it can be an adventure.
Walking for health is perhaps the best way to exercise. It's a one size fits all approach that allows for you to get healthier without overdoing it.