Lots of us have been sidelined from our normal activities in the last several months and, for me at least, that includes going to the gym and my weekly yoga class. Because exercise is an important part of my week, I’ve had to look at other options, at least for the time being. The good news is that there really is no shortage of other options out there, so you don’t have to miss a beat if you don’t want to.
In light of this current “new normal,” I thought I would spend some time exploring different activities and how they benefit us and impact our wellbeing. Since it’s something we all can do, I thought I would start the series with walking. And, as a reminder, always be sure to check with your physician before starting a new exercise program.
You’ll also want to tailor the type of exercise you do to your personal health and fitness goals. For example, in addition to eating less, you will be more likely to lose weight with a running program than with starting a yoga practice. If you’re looking to improve balance and flexibility, yoga is a great choice.
Walking is typically available to most of us, and has numerous benefits. Those who walk regularly are less liable to develop diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and more likely to maintain a healthy body weight. Walking boosts mood, and helps us sleep more soundly. It can help us live longer, live better and be happier.
A 2015 study by Stanford researchers found that walking in nature may reduce risk of depression and anxiety, and can also have a positive effect on certain aspects of cognitive function, including memory.
It’s easy to get started, too. The only equipment you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes. At some point, you may want to also invest in some type of reflective safety gear if you plan to walk in urban areas or in the early evening. If freezing or inclement weather in winter months is a factor where you live, you may want to invest in a treadmill to use year-round. They are available at many different price points, so you don’t have to spend a fortune if you don’t want to.
To get the most benefit, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Broken down, this translates to 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 days a week.
Walking can also be a great way to catch up with people. One of my favorite ways to get together with friends is for a walk or hike on a nearby trail.
If you miss a day or two, don’t stress – just get back on track as soon as you can. If you can’t walk for a half-hour some days, walk for15 minutes. The most important thing is to get – and keep – moving!
Next time we’ll explore weight training, so stay tuned for that!