Get Walking for Good Health

Get Walking for Good Health - Simply Nourished Wellness

I’m often asked where to start with exercise, or what to do to help with weight/fat loss. One thing I always recommend is strength training (which I’ll get into in a future post). But something that almost everyone can do for free and easily fit into their schedule is walking. There are so many benefits of adding walking to our daily lives.

Our bodies were meant to move. So many of us are behind a desk, sitting for hours on end. This is hard on our bodies and can lead to tight hips and hamstrings as well as back & neck strain from poor posture.

Walking is a full body endeavor that gets your legs moving, your arms swinging, your core stabilizing, and your heart pumping.

Move that lymph!

In addition to moving our muscles, walking and movement are also needed to move our lymph.

The lymphatic system is a network of organs and tissues that help move toxins and waste from the body. However, lymph doesn’t move on its own. It has no heart type organ pumping it through the body as blood does. It relies on body movement to keep it going (as well as good hydration to keep it fluid). This is why walking/movement are so important for helping with the immune system and detox. (For more info on lymph and improving its circulation, check out this article from Gaiam.)

Get Walking for Good Health - Simply Nourished Wellness

How Much? How Fast?

Knowing those benefits, the next questions often are: “How often should I walk?”, “How far should I walk?”, and “How fast should I walk?”

How often should I walk?

If you can, walk every day. Even better is multiple times per day. If you have a sedentary job, it’s a great idea to get up once an hour, if you can, and take a brief walk. If that’s not possible, try to get a short walk in on your lunch break.

Walking every day is ideal, not just because of health benefits, but because it also helps make it a habit & part of your lifestyle.

How far/fast should I walk?

I follow a pretty smart & no-nonsense fitness guy named Jason Seib. I once read something he wrote in regards to this and it just stuck with me…

How far should you walk? ….. As far as you can.
How fast should you walk? ….. As fast as you can while being able to still hold a conversation.

For some people, this may be a mile, for others 4 miles, or maybe only 1/4 mile. It might be a 17 minute/mile pace or a 27 minute/mile pace. Whatever you can do, DO IT. It’s not a comparison game – it’s about moving your body for health.

Get Walking for Good Health - Simply Nourished Wellness

What about 10,000 steps per day?

I’m sure you’ve heard that you should get 10,000 steps per day. While that is a good benchmark for movement, this can vary from person to person, so don’t get too hung up on that number. If you are just starting out and doing your best but only coming up at 5000 steps per day, that’s fine! Do not focus on the fact that it’s not 10K. Focus on the fact that you are moving and improving your health.

Using a step tracker of some sort can be really helpful to see how much movement you’re getting in a day, or to track your walks to see how far you went. There have been some days that I thought I was moving a lot but then saw my Fitbit and found how wrong I was! That’s how I know it’s time for a nice long walk! But, dont get too hung up on stats if they negatively affect you. Tracking your steps, distance, or speed are not necessary at all!

If you do want to track these, there are some great options for wearable trackers like Fitbits, Garmins, or Apple watches. You can also use your phone to track your walks or even count your steps all day (though that requires you carrying your phone with you all the time). A few of my favorite tracking apps are Map My Walk, the Fitbit app (if you have a Fitbit), Google Fit, or Strava.

Summer is here with beautiful weather to get outside – whether on the sidewalk, track, or hiking trail. Get walking! Some great ways to get more walking into your life are:

  • Taking short walks around your workplace to give your eyes a rest from the screen and your body a break from sitting.
  • Take a short walk on your lunch break.
  • Park as far away from the storefront as you can.
  • Choose stairs over elevators or escalators if you are able.
  • Take a walk around your neighborhood when you get home from work to let your mind unwind from the day as you transition into the evening.
  • Take a walk with your kids to a neighborhood park and then walk around the playground area as they play.
  • Find new hiking trails in your area to get a change of scenery.

Every bit adds up and gets you moving your body more. You’ll build strength in your legs, improve your body’s immunity and detoxification, plus get the de-stressing benefits as you clear your mind. Happy Walking!

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