Now I should begin with a disclaimer: it doesn’t have to be walking. I’ll also open with a spoiler: the main take away from this whole blog is that adopt any activity that has the most bang for it’s buck. That is, something that provides the most benefits for the least inconvenience or hassle.
One of the first things I recommend to people looking to lose some weight and or even just improve their general health (this includes mental health) is to go for a walk. Why is this? Well, for me it’s the sheer amount of good and helpful things a walk provides for most people.
Some of the most common issues I see in my clients that have impacted the unhealthy habits and routines they are in are the following:
- Far too sedentary.
- Not enough fresh air, especially sunlight.
- Lack of general cardiovascular fitness and capacity.
- Not enough personal time to be refreshed and rejuvenated.
- Not enough social interaction.
- Too much screen time.
- At the time of writing due to COVID, also feeling trapped indoors and a monotonous routine whereby motivation and enjoyment are low.
Just reading that list you can quickly understand how most people probably experience two or more of the above and how each alone (especially when stacked on top of each other) would impact someone’s food choices and motivation to exercise.
The thing I personally love about walking is that it both addresses many if not all of the above issues while also being such a low impact activity that virtually any beginner can do it without much risk of injury or negative outcome.
Here’s what I feel I gain from going for a walk even just a few times a week:
- Greater energy expenditure
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Exposure to sunlight (this helps with our Vitamin D levels, immune system, mental health and energy levels)
- Clears my head
- Social OR education time. I’ll put headphones in and listen to a lecture, podcast or sometimes give a friend a call and catch up for 30 minutes.
- Feel more energetic.
- Genuine and immediate improvement in mood.
- I handle stress and anxiety better.
I’ve gone from someone who generally didn’t see the point in walks or enjoy them much to someone who makes space in my week to do it.
Like I said at the start, you don’t need to walk, but it’s advisable to find SOMETHING physical to do, preferably outdoors. Gardening, bike riding, jogging, frisbee with the kids or kicking the ball around all count.
Give it a go and quickly you’re likely to start feeling the benefits and even enjoying it too.