Why You Should Grab 21 Minutes To Walk Every Day
My mantra has always been ‘having great skin when you are younger and growing old beautifully is all about developing good habits, moderation and consistency’.
Guess what, so is your general health.
Harvard Medical School tells us walking for 2.5 hours a week—that’s just 21 minutes a day — can cut your risk of heart disease by 30%.
How good is that!
Exercise where you can relax, chat with a friend, take in a view or listen to a podcast (I’ve even done business calls with seagulls squawking in my ears!). No gym membership required.
So, I thought I would take a deeper look at the activity of walking and why it is such an underrated but easily addictive form of exercise.
Lifting the spirits, parking the anxiety
You do not need a professorship to know walking out in the world can have feel good effects. I guess we are social animals who get a buzz out of intermingling. I certainly feel refreshed after my Coogee Cliff Top walks and seeing everyone moving around fulling the same kind of human need for activity and proximity.
On my walk at the beach, I am constantly entertained with beach volleyball, beautiful people of all walks of life and age strolling or running along the boardwalk. If I want to walk where I can revel in my solitude, I pop in my earpiece and listen to music or a podcast. I find my park walks particularly peaceful and I always feel serene yet energised afterwards. One thing is for sure, everyone has a smile on their face!
Where I live, walking means dogs and a dog on a walk is a happy dog. The vibe from these guys is so positive and infectious.
Sometimes, depending on where I am I will take my shoes off and walk around on the grass, its simply lovely to feel the fresh grass under my feet and is very grounding.
An easy way to reconnect with nature and mother earth.
It’s easy – You decide how many steps
Fortunately, there is no settled upon prescription of how long you need to walk to manage stress, which makes sense because it is such a mind game. For broader health benefits, the 21 minutes or 5000 steps comes into play, but it is not just about more is better.
Sure, walking faster, farther and more frequently has greater benefits. Hovever, there is plenty of evidence for building up slowly and finding your personal aerobic level to improve your heart health and increase your endurance while burning calories.
What I like to do is alternate periods of more vigorous walking with leisurely walking. It may not be like training for the Olympics but plenty of fitness regimes use interval training as a way to do more in less time and combine going hard with cooling down
The Mayo Clinic lists a myriad of walking benefits even losing weight.
Walking can help you burn kilojoules.
I am sure this is correct but common sense also tells me to be conscious of a calorie deficit. So, a little walk followed by a New York Cheesecake is probably not a great combination.
Easy to develop a walking technique
I am not a power walker but I know from my friends feedback and my experience that good walking posture counts. Keeping your head up, your neck, shoulders and back remain relaxed, not stiff as a board.
Let your arms swing freely and with a little pumping with your arms is good. I find keeping my core stomach muscles slightly tightened and my back straight makes my body feel strengthened and purposeful.
Also, don’t forget the feet, especially at the start of a new walking regime. Hard surfaces can be a killer so be conscious of how much pounding is going on.
Tone your legs
Almost forgot! Good news, walking can strengthen and tone the muscles in your legs.
If you can walk up and down some stairs or hilly areas to increase the load on your legs.
If you are keen, try some resistance exercises like squats, lunges, and leg curls before and after a walk to loosen up, cool down and for strength.
Boost your energy
Finally, going for a walk when you’re tired, bored or fed up with screen time may be a more effective energy boost than grabbing a cup of coffee (although I love going for a walk to get a coffee).
Walking increases oxygen flow and the hormones that help elevate and regulate energy levels through the body, such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
When it comes to exercise, my approach is do it in a way that suits you and your lifestyle, family and needs. If you love to lift weights then that is for you and yet if you prefer a more gentle approach then maybe yoga or pilates is the way to go and my favourite is to just walk.
On that note, let me leave you with one of my all-time favourite quotes. It has been one I have reflected upon many a time. I hope you love it too.
“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of wellbeing and walk away from every illness.
I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” Søren Kierkegaard 1847