Walk Your Way to Fitness



artwork by freepik.com

 

Tips to integrate more walking and natural movement into your daily routine.

We often see exercise as a chore, a task you have to check of the list each week. It can even become something we dread. Maybe you can’t face the drive to the gym today or you convince yourself you can’t run because it’s cold and rainy out. There will always be excuses. However, according to WebMD, the average adult needs at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, if not more. Sounds easy enough, right? But if you’re sitting inside at a desk all day, this can be tricky.

I always wondered how Europeans do it; they walk everywhere and think nothing of it. Then I moved to England and was forced to adapt to that lifestyle. I discovered that I was exercising every day without realizing it. “How was this possible?” you might ask. Well, I didn’t have a car. The walk to campus took 15 minutes—downhill on the way there and uphill on the way back. The walk to the city center took 30 minutes. I was horrified. I never walked that much back home. But the long walks quickly integrated into my daily routine, and soon my calves were rock hard! 

Coming home to the U.S. meant adjusting back to the extra large portion sizes along with using a car for transport again. I stopped walking everyday, and my body began to feel sluggish and fatigued. So I decided to do like the Europeans do and try adding more natural exercise back into my daily routine. It wasn’t an easy feat, especially because I live in an area where there’s not much to walk to besides a fast food place.

Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.

1) Find every opportunity to walk. Of course this is easier if you live somewhere like downtown where you can walk to work, coffee shops, and health food stores. But if you’re like me and you don’t, there are still options. If there’s a park or trail nearby your destination, you can park there and then walk. Maybe you block out time for this during your lunch hour or at the beginning of a productive Saturday morning. Get coworkers or family involved so that you have at least one person to hold you accountable. 

2) Then there’s the obvious taking the stairs instead of the elevator tip–simple but effective! If you do this daily, I promise it will add up. Walking up stairs gets your heart rate up, and it’s an easy way to tone your legs outside of the gym. 

3) When you do have to drive to the grocery store, try parking farther away–it might sound small, but it means a little extra walking time. I’ve also started using a hand-held basket when available and carrying my bags back to my car without a cart. That way I’m at least using some muscle power. 

4) For all the dog owners out there, try making your dog walks a little longer or turn them into a light jog. Your pup will appreciate the additional exercise, too! If you don’t own a dog, animal shelters often take on volunteer dog-walkers. 

5) Lastly, if the only place you can workout is the gym, I have a tip for you, too—pick a day or two a week to have a more relaxed workout. Bring your favorite podcast or book to the gym. Have a quick walk on the treadmill while binge-listening The Joe Rogan Podcast, and you’ll soon forget that you’re even exercising!

 

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