Instead of working out being intense, make it intentional!
As we get older, we learn that exercise doesn’t need to be unpleasant! It can be enjoyable, and we can feel great and sleep better. Developing a routine of walking every day, especially first thing in the morning, has many physical and mental health benefits.
HOW WALKING IMPACTS VARIOUS ASPECTS OF OUR WELL-BEING
Start by making a daily walk your number one fitness goal. If you walk 30 minutes daily, you will complete a minimum of 210 minutes of weekly movement. The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition (PCSFN) recommends that healthy adults complete 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Consider setting a daily goal of walking between 7,500 to 10,000 steps a day. Tracking your steps can motivate you and keep movement top of mind.
During midlife, cardiovascular health can become more of a concern. A brisk walk daily can elevate our heart rate, reducing the risks of heart problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart attack. It has also been proven to lower the chances of stroke and diabetes. Although daily walks have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by 30 to 50 percent, even walking a few times a week reduces these risks by 15 to 20 percent.
WEIGHTLOSS + WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Walking is a great way to burn fat, lose weight, and get lean. Try to make your walks more challenging by adding certain elements that will increase calorie burn and help build muscle mass. Some suggestions to make your walks more challenging include:
- Try varying the terrain as you get more comfortable with your walking routine — like dirt paths, sand, grass, and hills
- Incorporate light hand weights, a weighted vest, backpack, belt, or ankle weight
- Add in 30 seconds of jogging into your waking routine at every half of a mile
We can all use a pick-me-up sometimes, and the endorphins from walking — coupled with the fresh air — can encourage less negative thinking and a more positive outlook. Walking can also be calming and does not have to be done at a fast pace to experience mood-enhancing, stress-relieving benefits. The effect of putting one foot in front of the other is highly meditative. Spending time in nature can calm the nervous system and lift your mood. Enjoy quiet time or listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts. To strengthen your relationships, you can also make it a social activity by meeting friends or family for a stroll or a more rigorous hike. A furry friend makes for a great walking companion, as well!
Circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates our sleep-wake cycles. Light plays an essential role in the process. Your chances of getting a good night’s sleep begin when you wake up and expose yourself to light. Walking outside in the early morning sunlight helps sync your inner-body clock to your natural circadian rhythm. The key is to have your eyes take in the light (no sunglasses), so it hits the pineal gland in the brain, signaling to stop making the sleepy hormone melatonin and begin production of cortisol, the hormone that gives you fuel! In addition, walking in the morning reduces muscle and joint pain!
RESOURCES + TOOLS
Below are a few ideas if you need some motivators!
1.) Reward yourself by grabbing a beverage at your favorite coffee or juice shop at the halfway point
2.) Schedule a walk with a friend
3.) Bring your furry friend(s) along (my dogs look forward to our morning walks as much as I do
4.) Listen to music, audiobooks, or a podcast that is inspiring
5.) Wear a step-tracking device (set a goal of 10,000 steps/day) to keep movement top of mind
6.) Vary the terrain – find dirt paths, sand, grass, and hills; the variety can be stimulating
If you REALLY want to elevate your workout, consider our recent 30-Day Training Guide for the September 2022 Salveo Seekers Trip to prepare for hiking the Dolomites!