Walking. Yes we’re talking about walking today because it is extremely underrated in my opinion. And actually, it’s not just my opinion. There’s a crap ton of scientific research to back up my opinion.
But today’s post came about because the weather has been awesome in central Indiana as of late (for you East coasters ravaged by Matthew, sorry. Hope that gets cleaned up soon.) My new gym/office location is right off the monon trail in Carmel and so I have been making it a habit to go out and get in 30 mins 1-2 times per day lately. And from an anecdotal standpoint, here’s what I’ve noticed:
- Better recovery from training sessions. Now that I’m 32 (and yes I realize that isn’t that old, but 32 ain’t 22 either) I notice that I can’t quite get after it like I used to. Years of training for triathlons while simultaneously lifting weights and playing recreational sports like pick-up basketball and flag football often meant training or exercising 2x per day and up to as much as 10-12 training sessions per week. I know that sounds like a ton, but I did it and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Now? Eh, not so much. I can still get a couple of 2 a days in there every now and then, but man I pay the price. Even with my diet in check and a solid night’s sleep, it just isn’t quite the same. I need about 1 extra day it seems to get back to 100% whereas before I bounced right back. Hell, after my first half ironman on a Saturday in 2011, I went out and ran 6 that following Monday because I felt fine. Probably wouldn’t be the case today. Anywho, I’ve found that a nice brisk walk really rejuvenates me and seems to allow me to bounce back a bit quicker, especially following a heavy strength training session.
- More focus and alertness. This is very similar to how swimming affects me. Typically after a pool session I feel really, really good and ready to get back to it. It’s like a second start to the day. Well I’ve found that walking has a very similar effect. And oddly enough, I don’t get the same feeling after a run of similar time. Runs seem to really gas me out lately. Although in all fairness I still push it to get solid splits (and negative whenever I can). But the bonus here is that I don’t have to drive to the gym, change, swim, shower, and then drive back to the shop. I can just go out and immediately get these benefits with nothing on but a pair of shoes…. okay and shorts and a shirt.
- Better back health. If you’ve followed along at all in my blogs over the years I’ve beat this one over the back (see what I did there?). I have a screwy back with a long sounding diagnosed name that you don’t care to know about. Just know that I have to be cautious with it. After swimming, it seems to really be in great shape and my chiropractor 100% agrees. Well, more good news! Walking seems to have a very similar impact on my spine too. Again, all without having to do anything but go for a stroll.
- Improved mood and creativeness. This one is kind of a no brainer, but I feel it is still worth mentioning. It’s pretty much common knowledge that exercise improves mood. It’s like that co-worker who comes in all happy and shit at 8 am and hasn’t even had coffee yet because they were busy busting out an hour long spin class at 6 am. But it really does help me out. I just overall feel happier after a walk. And when I’m on that walk it gives me time to think about better ways to do things both within the business as well as life in general. I’m telling you guys you’ve got to start doing this! As little as 10-15 minutes will do the trick.
But as I said earlier, this is anecdotal. What works for me may or may not work for you. So with all this said, do what ever makes you happier and healthier overall. But for the sake of providing some evidence, below are some of the actual observed benefits of walking:
- Walking at least 30 minutes a day is linked to an 18% lower risk of coronary artery disease.*
- Walking at least nine miles a week was linked to a 22% lower death rate.*
- Among 72,488 female nurses, walking at least three hours a week was linked to a 35% lower risk of heart attack and cardiac death and a 34% lower risk of stroke.*
- A 10-year study of 229 postmenopausal women randomly assigned the volunteers to walk at least one mile a day or to continue normal activities. At the end of the trial, the walkers enjoyed an 82% lower risk of heart disease.*
- Walking improves cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress.*
- Walking and other moderate exercise programs also help protect against dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction.*
And guys, if that last one didn’t sell you I don’t know what will! So if you’re finding it hard to squeeze workouts into your busy schedule, just remember that walking around a bit more can really do wonders for your physical and mental health. So get out there and start walking!
* All of the above bullet points were taken from The Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications and the full article can be found here: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Walking-Your-steps-to-health