Is Walking Even Worth it?
CONSISTENT MOVEMENT > INCONSISTENT INTENSITY
Consistent movement: walking, increasing mobility, doing a quick jog around your neighborhood, foam rolling, doing 1 round of squats and pushups after work, 5 minutes of yoga before bed.
Inconsistent intensity: sitting all day and then working out at your highest intensity when (and only when) you can reserve 60 minutes for it.
The problem with inconsistent intensity is that it encourages extremes. All or nothing. Only have time for a 10 minute walk? Not good enough. Do nothing instead.
If your only intention for exercise is weight loss, that 10 min walk won’t cause you to lose 2 lbs overnight.
But it will give you momentum to do the next health promoting behavior. That 10 minute walk in the morning makes it easier to say yes to a healthy breakfast, makes it reasonable to stretch after sitting, to drink more water, to take that next phone call walking, to have the mental energy to be present in your relationship and the and physical energy to function optimally.
If you took one call a day walking you could build in around 3-4 hours a week of walking when you had previously been sitting.
Our health is a mirror of all of our habits. When we stop looking for the ONE HUGE thing that makes our health change overnight, we can actually start doing the little things that matter. Here's why walking matters:
-releases endorphins, PROVEN mood booster
-gives you movement without physical stress
-helps you slow the pace of your day
-makes it easier to make the NEXT healthy choice
Do it for your mental health:
Psychologists found that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to relieving the symptoms of anxiety. Read that again. Think of how many times you have decided that if you can't do a 45 minute workout, you won't do anything at all. Rethinking that yet?!
Even more interesting, walking increases activity in the brain associated with innovation and creativity, while decreasing negative emotions and risk of depression. One Stanford University study found that walking increased creative output by an average of 60%.
Think about how hard it is to stay creative in our busy lives. We quite literally do not have the mental space to be creative or have unique thought, and walking can help build that back in.
Do it for your sleep:
A study published recently in the journal Sleep Health found that when healthy adults increase the time they spend walking each day, they sleep better at night. (And the results were even more profound in women than in men!)
It's not just how much they are sleeping, but the actually quality of sleep was increased.
Do it for less physical stress:
Walking releases the same endorphins that high intensity exercise does, but without adding the physical stress on the body. HIIT (High intensity interval training) has been a popular form of exercise categorized by high heart rates, compound movements, fast paces, and high joint impact.
Walking provides all of the mental benefits, some of the calorie burning benefits, and none of the impact on your joints. This can be incredibly important for females during their reproductive years, (exercise in excess can be a stressor that alters hormonal balance), and those with poor bone density.
Do it to do something:
There is a discipline to just showing up. Not showing up perfectly, but just showing up. Here is the most compelling of these facts: walking is 1000% more effective than doing nothing.
So often we compare what we are doing to what we should be doing (basically to perfection). Since we can't make it, we do nothing at all. But what about all that you could be doing?
we function best when we move often.
What would your health look like if you started to focus on doing things that actually made you function more optimally, rather than only focusing on what can make you lose weight fast? Hint: you'd probably lose weight as a byproduct.
The next time you decide to tell yourself that this walk will not be worth it, I hope you hear my voice telling you that YOU ARE WORTH IT.