Walking. It seems an oddly simple way to exercise, maybe even too simple depending on what your fitness goals are. However, there are far more benefits to walking than first appear to the eye. It’s an easy and free way to get some of your daily movement in, and there’s no excuse not to do it. (Rainboots, umbrellas, parkas, and snowboots all exist to counter all weather imaginable…) If you are the hunt for something to get you off of your couch and out of the house, start with walking- as they say, you have to walk before you can run! I’m sharing all of the benefits I’m seeing from walking today with you….
I have been walking daily for over a month now! I got started with The Walk app, which I’m just over halfway through. Each episode is 50-120 minutes (depending on the options that you take), and you are walking a device across the UK to help save the world from terrorist organisations. It’s a fairly addictive app, if nothing else- I will make myself go for a walk because I want to find out what is happening. People are double crossing me, I am running away from police dogs, and literally hearing voices. It’s a great premise to get you walking and although you have to pay for it ($4 CAD on the Google Play store), I would say it’s entirely worth it. While I’m maintaining my regular exercise schedule with walking, I have noticed several differences in my days with walking.
It’s surprising what a difference walking makes with my muscles. My body has quite some wear and tear on it from decades of ballet, and if you happened to see me when I stand after sitting for a long while or when I get out of bed, you would think that I was close to seventy, not close to thirty. While walking hasn’t eliminated stiffness and locking altogether for me, it has gone a long way to keeping me limber! Instead of having to shuffle around for two to three minutes to loosen up, I now only need twenty or thirty seconds. It seems to make the most difference in the days after a long dance class or workout, I don’t tighten up the way I normally would.
Getting More Fresh Air
It is easy to forget about getting fresh air when you live in -45 C weather for several months of the year- fresh air can lead to frostbite and burnt feeling lungs. However, it’s important to get that fresh air when it is possible! I’ve noticed that small headaches, an upset stomach, or even general stress can be alleviated with a little bit of time out in the fresh air. (I’m in no way claiming that there is scientific proof to this, just anecdotal observations. And with the proper sunscreen, it’s often the best way to get your Vitamin D for the day! (Vitamin D helps with the absorption of a few other vitamins and shouldn’t be forgotten about.) I had a bit of cold catch up to me in the last few weeks; although getting up and walking wasn’t necessarily at the top of my “want to do” list, I felt noticeably improved after an easy and slow walk outside.
I’m not a great sleeper, I’ll admit that. I rarely get into a deep sleep, and the tiniest of noises can easily wake me up. While I’m not falling into a dead sleep for ten hours at a time, I am falling asleep faster and sleeping longer when I do sleep now. Because I usually walk at night before going to bed, it’s a great time for my mind to unload any stress and hiccups from the day and for my muscles to release any knots and tension they may be holding. According to what’s found on the Google box, not only does exercise help sleep by allowing you to reduce your stress levels, it also can strengthen your Circadian rhythms (the rhythm and pattern of our day). So, as long as you have somewhere that is well-lit and safe, maybe try taking a short stroll before tucking into bed! I like to think of it as going to bed lighter, leaving the stress and tension behind in my steps.
Where do you like to take your walks?