How many times have you started an exercise program only to quit? How many gyms have you signed up for only to cancel your membership due to inactivity? You’re not alone. Millions of people get started on an exercise program only to give up. I’ve been there, too. But I’ve discovered one form of exercise that has stuck with me for years. I just keep walking.
Some people mistakenly believe that exercise must be hard and painful to be beneficial. Granted, a hard workout a few times a week is good, but it’s not needed for maintaining above-average health. It turns out that a few walks per week can increase your longevity as much as most forms of exercise. It’s even good for you when you walk less than two hours a week at a slow pace. If you keep walking, you’re staying healthy.
Check The Facts About Walking
According to a study done at Louisiana State University’s Biomedical Center, Dr. Tim Church says,
Too many people think you have to exercise really, really hard to get a benefit, and nothing could be further from the truth,” Church says. “You’re actually getting, probably, 95 percent or more of the benefits when you’re walking as compared to jogging.
One of the things we really learned from the study — and I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, but we were — was how often the group that was only doing 73 minutes a week at a very slow pace benefited, no matter what we looked at.
Even a little bit of activity can reduce the amount of that dangerous belly fat. And we know that visceral fat is related to the risk of diabetes and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
I’m a regular walker. I started walking when I was kid. My mom had to chase me around the neighborhood because I loved to walk. As a teenager, and through most of my twenties, I chose walking and biking to driving. During my college years in my thirties, (I was a late bloomer), I only used my car when I had to drive out of town. I’ve made a point to keep walking ever since.
7 Good Reasons To Keep Walking
- You can walk almost anywhere: Many forms of exercise require that you go to a specific location: a gym, a court, a park. Walking can be done almost anywhere. I walk out my front door and down the street to a local park almost daily. I walk around the campus where I teach several times per week. I walk when I travel. I’ve walked the beaches of Maine and the beaches of southern California. I’ve walked the streets of Nashville and the streets of New Orleans.
- You can walk almost anytime: If you’re a morning person, you can get up early and enjoy the sunrise. If you like to stay up late, you can walk in the cool of the evening. I’ve walked home from social gatherings at two in the morning. I’ve started hiking up mountains at four in the morning. I take 30 minutes most days to walk during my lunch hour at work. Most forms of exercise are much more limiting. The gym is only open at certain hours. The team can only gather at certain times. You can walk whenever you want.
- Walking requires no special equipment: There are very few forms of exercise that require no more than your everyday clothing. Most sports require a bunch of equipment. Even running requires special shoes. As someone who lives simple, I’m convinced that walking is the most practical form of exercise. That’s one of many reasons I choose to keep walking.
- Walking is a great solo exercise: We can all use a little solitude from time to time. Everyone needs time to think, to sort things out. Walking can be done alone. I’ve often used my walks as brainstorming sessions. I’ve solved problems. I’ve come up with book ideas. I’ve even written poems and songs while I walk. Or sometimes I just use walking as a form of meditation and simply focus on my breathing.
- Walking is a great social exercise: Walking is also a great way to meet people. A simple stroll through the park can lead to new relationships. I’ve met dozens of people while walking. Many communities have walking clubs. I often walk with my daughter, Annie. It gives us time to have great daddy-daughter talks. I hike with friends. The time together on the trail lets us catch up on each others’ lives. The pace is perfect for good conversation.
- Walking is interesting: Some people have told me that they don’t walk because it’s boring. Nothing could be further from the truth. We live in such a fast-paced world that we’ve forgotten how interesting details can be. When you travel by car, or even bicycle, you miss out on all the little things that make up the big picture. As a poet and a writer, I’ve found walking to be one of the most important mental exercises I can do. I don’t just walk. I pay attention. If you want to see how interesting the world can be, keep walking.
- Do it for your dog: I’m a dog person. I have a great Border-Aussie mix named Shep. I’ll admit that there are days I don’t feel like walking. Shep, however, does. Owning a dog has become mutually beneficial. I’m able to give Shep love and attention and he helps me to keep walking.
The Freedom Of Walking
You can walk briskly. You can stroll. You can power walk. You can walk for five minutes a few times a day or 60 minutes twice a week. You can walk at noon or at midnight. You can walk when you’re in Seattle or when you’re in Paris. You can walk in the sun, snow, wind, or rain. How and when you choose to walk is entirely up to you. My only advice is to just keep walking.
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