If you have read any of my other posts then you already know that I am going to say yes. We can get many of the health benefits of regular exercise by tweaking our routine to optimize walking. I am going to tell you about some of these amazing health benefits and explain how we can achieve our goals by walking for health.
How Does Walking Benefit Our Health?
I have written several posts on why walking is good for your health, including how walking burns belly fat, how walking aids digestion and helps fight diabetes, and one of my personal favorites – how walking is good for mental health.
The truth is, walking is something most of us are capable of both physically and logistically and we can use it to alleviate stress, lose weight and just generally feel better.
If Everyone Walks, Why Are We Still Unhealthy?
Walking is a fantastic tool that we can utilise. It is one of the easiest ways you can achieve your goals but as a tool, it is not going to do the work for you. You need to use it and use it properly… a key will help you unlock a door but you have to turn the key, you have to push the door open and you have to walk through it.
If you do not walk enough, you have a limited routine or your posture is sub-optimal, you might not feel the full benefit. It is also worth noting that you cannot out-train a bad diet. If you consume more calories than you burn, eat to much junk food, or drink excess alcohol, you may not feel full benefits. We all deserve a treat but try and moderate how much.
So how can you walk your way to a healthier you?
Walking For Health – Metrics For Consistency And Progress
If your aim is to walk yourself healthy, you need to measure your current levels and set yourself targets for improvement. Even if you have other unhealthy habits if the only thing you change is your walking performance, you will almost certainly see and feel the benefits.
A popular metric for walkers all over the world. If you average less than 10000 footsteps a day you are not getting your recommended healthy minimum. You can actively take a dedicated walk every day or you can make changes to your routine so you can passively increase your footsteps such as parking further away from home/work, walking the dog, or leaving the car at home when making short trips. I recommend doing a bit of both.
If footsteps, not your go-to metric yet, then why not consider some of the best ways to count your footsteps.
Walking up a hill requires a bit more effort and diversifies the workout to include more muscles. If you take the stairs instead of the lift, walk upstairs in your house, or map a route with more hills/steps in when you go out walking you will see the benefits.
Powerwalks and Rest Time:
To really optimize walking as a form of exercise, you need to try to combine aerobic walking with anaerobic walking. Just walking just a little faster than your usual gait will provide some of the aerobic benefits and powerwalking for a set distance or time will provide the anaerobic benefits. You could start by walking as fast as you can for 100 meters then slowing down to catch your breath and then repeating the process when you are fully recovered.
When you get used to doing this, you can increase your number of powerwalks, increasing the distance of your powerwalk or reducing the rest time (this may not be the best direct option as it is important for you to fully recover.
Vary Your Walkouts And Get Your Form Right
Walking the same route every day may work out, to begin with, but our bodies will get used to it and we may quickly stop seeing benefits. One way of getting around this is ensuring we are improving our performance every day but you can also part take in existing walking disciplines such as Nordic walking to add variety.
Like with any workout, however, you can nail your form to optimize the physical benefits. The author of verywellfit.com has published this article about getting a better walking posture.
Walking For Health Action Mindset
Walking can give you so much if you leverage it correctly, however, it is a key to open a door. If you don’t do it, it won’t work. You should make a plan and stick to it as best you can. If you suffer a setback, that’s fine but get back on the horse. You don’t have to be good at it when you start but focussing more on consistency and progress will take you far. consistency means getting out every day and progress means reaching for a bit more than the day before.
Share The Experience
Whether it is someone to compete with or someone to motivate you, if you can find a walking partner with similar abilities and goals to you, you can spur each other on. Adding somebody else to your daily appointments means you are more accountable and less likely to skip.
However, if this is easier said than done, you can achieve accountability by talking about your goals with friends or family. If you keep it to yourself, you are increasing the probability of being tempted to skip on a day you are less motivated.
You could also look to join a walking club in your area.
Walking For Health Outside Your Comfort Zone
I have explained the benefits of walking for health and why it might not work, as well as the ways you can tweak your routine and your mindset. So what are you waiting for?
If you are interested in walking for health or you have any thoughts on my article, please leave a comment below.