Have you heard about “hot girl walk”? Walking is coming back as a popular form of exercise amongst Gen Z and Millennials. If you think about the times you’ve gone out for a walk you felt better after you did it and there’s a reason for that. Walking has a lot of benefits.
Walking: The Most Underrated Form of Exercise
Why is exercise important?
Only 50% of adults get the physical activity that they need to reduce risk of chronic disease. Exercising is one of those lifestyle choices you might hear about from your doctor. Lifestyle factors such as having a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and excessive alcohol use can all affect our health.
Exercising is important not just because you want to lose weight, but there are many other benefits and I’ve listed them below!
Health benefits of walking
- A better mood
- Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Protective against bone loss
- It burns calories
- Better sleep
- Improved balance, memory and cognition
- Reduces arthritis symptoms
Additional benefits for children
- Improves aerobic activity
- Improves muscular fitness
- Reduces risk of depression
Additional benefits for healthy aging
- Reduces risk of falls
- Delays onset of cognitive decline
- Improves joint mobility
This walking pad has significantly helped me to increase my physical activity!
How to make it a healthy habit
It’s a known fact that we stick to things we enjoy. Find ways to walk more by doing these things:
- Park further away and walk
- Ask a friend to join you
- If you have a dog walk them daily or try out dog walking for a neighbor
- When you go on vacation take a walking tour
- If you are someone who likes seeing progress try using a fitness tracker
- Schedule walks on your calendar just like you schedule other activities
- Set up outdoor family activities on the weekend that involve walking
Start back slowly
If you haven’t been active in a while it’s important to start back slowly. Set a goal and stick to it. Smaller goals like starting out walking 15 minutes 3 days a week are a lot better than bigger, unrealistic goals like trying to walk for 60 minutes 3 days a week. While the bigger goal sounds great it’s a lot harder to actually do and stick to it if you haven’t been active for quite some time.
High intensity workouts like HITT training have been pretty popular these last few years, but it’s not always safe for everyone to do. If it has been awhile since you’ve been active it’s all the more important to slowly ease back into it to prevent injury. Another thing that can happen is it can cause you to feel discouraged. Think about it. If you try to do a high intensity workout and can’t keep up with it, would that make you feel good? Definitely not! In fact this is a huge reason why some people don’t workout.
Even if you are just going for a walk it’s a good idea to stretch. Stretching loosens up the muscles and helps to prevent injury.
It’s recommended that adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. This could look like walking 30 minutes 5 days a week. If you aren’t able to walk 30 minutes in one dose you can split it up. Try walking 10 minutes 3x within the day or 15 minutes twice within the day. It adds up and it still counts!
Don’t forget to stay hydrated
Water helps to keep us from overheating, maintain healthy skin, it lubricates your joints and is necessary for digestion. It’s definitely the drink of choice to prevent dehydration. As you start back walking and/or increase the amount of walking that you do don’t forget to hydrate.
Fluid needs can vary and are based on sex, age, physical activity level and health status. For example, someone with congestive heart failure or an advanced form of kidney disease would need different amounts of fluid compared to someone who is healthy. Generally speaking, women and men need 9 – 13 cups of fluids per day, respectively.
We do get some water from foods like fruits, vegetables and yogurt. Hydrating throughout the day versus trying to drink a lot at once is best. Start your day with a cup or two of water, have water with and in between meals.
Make drinking water more exciting by adding sliced cucumbers, sliced lemons or limes, sliced oranges, or even mint leaves. Give the fruit a squeeze or two as you add it to your water to really get the flavor out. You can also crush a few berries at the bottom of your cups to get the juices out.