As I age and become wiser (hopefully) I’m learning that slow and steady may just in fact win the race; the race of life, health, and longevity. My goals surrounding exercise are evolving from concentrating on decreasing my waist span to improving my health span.
My younger, athletic self discredited the belief that walking is great exercise. I used to go for walks and find myself jogging toward the end to speed things up! My love of competition draws me into opportunities that cause me to give my all, sprint through something hard, and come out on the other side spent but accomplished.
I’ve always embraced the mindset of a sprinter versus a distance runner. I’d rather go hard and go home than draw out the process. Lately, I’m making conscious efforts to embrace the slower, restorative exercises that are just as effective. Exercise is not always about depletion but giving space for renewal too. Walking is an exercise for me that offers a sense of physical renewal.
As I was traveling abroad last month and exploring Europe, the common denominator I noticed was that everyone walked everywhere. I’d found myself amazed at the number of locals, young and old, walking around the streets and up all the stairs. I also noticed that obesity didn’t seem to be a major risk factor in most of those countries. Despite the delicious carb-filled pasta meals and daily gelato, I didn’t gain a pound of weight, despite my best efforts! Every day I would record 15,000-20,000 steps and had so much fun exploring the area on foot.
Walking offers many benefits such as improving mental clarity and self-esteem, improving cardiovascular health, reducing stress, lower blood pressure, curbing cravings, lower blood glucose, fighting obesity genes, protecting joints, building muscle, boosting immunity, lowering cancer risk, supporting hormones, plus many more! It is recommended to take a 10-min walk after meals to support lowering glucose levels.
Start with a brisk walk around the block DAILY then increase your distance or time. Invite a family member, friend, or dog for the connection benefits. Walk as the sun rises and allow your eyes to soak in the morning light to improve your mental health. For those who are looking for more “intensity” add a weighted vest, walk backwards (improves knee/joint health – a blog for another time) or walk barefoot to soak up the energy of the earth.
Commit with me to a daily walk. Embrace the slow and steady that offers a full and healthy lifespan.