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Walking: A Simple, Effective Way to Getting Fit this Summer

4 min read

Yesterday was my birthday, and I celebrated, among other things, with a long walk out in nature. The picture above shows one of the beautiful paths that was leading my way into good health. I probably walked almost two hours, the longest walk I’ve had in a while, and it had immediate effects, such as calming my thoughts, easing stress and helping me sleep. I don’t recommend long, hard exercise, merely because of the amount of stress that occurs in the body. Walking, however, seems to provide stress relieving benefits without the excessive oxidative damage associated with long distance running or other long, hard exercises.

A Few Health Facts About Walking

  • Walking Improves Your Mood – Study after study conclude that walking, and any other exercise, for that matter, improves mood. Exercise is the most under utilized antidepressant, and many people are missing out on its benefits. Moving the body vigorously helps to release endorphins, or “feel good” hormones, which act upon the brain to help improve mood. Because of this, exercise can also be overused by some, which can lead to excessive oxidative damage in the body. Balance is key!
  • Walking Lowers Blood Pressure – Walking is a great way to lose stress, which is incredibly helpful in reducing blood pressure. Being out in nature and with a friend is also very helpful at relieving stress, thus helping to lower blood pressure. Many people are able to stop using blood pressure medications by managing it with diet and exercise alone (speak to your doctor about this before abstaining from any current medications).
  • Walking Stabilizes Blood Sugar – Exercise, including brisk walking, helps in improving insulin receptors on the cells in the human body, helping to easily take in blood glucose after eating. This is good for type II diabetics, who have weak insulin receptors and often have high blood sugar levels that must be controlled with insulin injections. Reducing stress also helps in strengthening insulin receptors. Along with diet, exercise is a powerful way to help reduce blood sugar levels and insulin.
  • Walking Helps in Weight Loss – When we cannot utilize blood sugar properly (i.e., we cannot take in blood sugar due to weak insulin receptors), insulin may store this glucose as fat. Walking, again, helps to strengthen insulin receptors and improve the regulation and uptake of blood sugar into the cells to use as energy. Walking also boosts the metabolic rate, which burns calories, especially calories from fat.
  • Walking Improves Memory – Some studies have shown that purely walking can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Also, walking out in nature helps improve ADHD symptoms in children, as well as improving memory.

Brisk Walking is Key

Walking at a snails pace is a good start, but it isn’t going to exercise your heart or leg muscles significantly. It burns less calories, and may even deplete you of energy later on. Build up to walking briskly, pretending you are a little late to an appointment or to meet a friend. You should be able to carry on a conversation, but still should be breathing harder than you would at a relaxed pace.

Intensity of any exercise is where we reap the most benefits. True, we receive benefits from relaxed exercises, such as very slow yoga, but intense, Vinyasa yoga is regarded more highly for boosting the metabolism and creating positive health changes in the heart, the muscles of the legs, arms and core, as well as the emotions and the mind. Same goes for any type of cardio you are doing, including walking. With interval cardio, the benefits lie in the short, intense sprinting sessions, with the “rest” periods in between being very important, but slightly less impactful.

I walk occasionally, perhaps twice a week, being a break in-between my interval cardio and yoga days. I walk relatively fast in real life, so walking briskly for exercise is usually not a problem. I find the easiest way to make it feel enjoyable, and not like a chore, is to have someone along with you that you can talk to. Having a conversation about something (hopefully positive) can help take your mind off the actual exercise. In fact, don’t even see it as exercise. See it as being out in nature and connecting the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Other Exercises to Incorporate in a Health and Wellness Plan

Walking is a great way to start any exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while. It helps to give you energy and strength to do other, more challenging types of exercise. Using your whole body is something we were designed to do, meaning walking should not be the sole source of exercise for the body. Varying your routine helps promote the strengthening of various parts of your body, and will help you reach the most benefits in the health of your body and mind.

These are the types of exercises I enjoy:
  • Interval Cardio – 
  • Yoga and/or Pilates – 
  • Mental Exercises – 
  • Anything else you enjoy!

Tell me about the exercises you enjoy taking a part in. Do you play any sports? I’m thinking about getting involved in a community soccer team or other sport that I’ve never played. Do you garden? Practice yoga? Lift weights? Please let me know in the comments section below! Also, be sure you are balancing your exercise program with healthy, nourishing and tasty foods

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3 thoughts on “Walking: A Simple, Effective Way to Getting Fit this Summer

  1. I love yoga as well. have you ever tried hot yoga? Also, what do you mean by mental exercises? Do you think you can expand on this in a later post? Thank you!

    1. Hi Emily! Yes, I’ve tried hot yoga once. It was very intense! I will definitely see if I can expand on the idea of “mental exercises” in a future post, as there are so many. Keeping your mind sharp is just as important as keeping your body fit. 🙂

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