From letting you stop to smell the roses to being an exercise far gentler on your knees and ankles – more and more experts are now advising regular walks rather than punishing runs!
For most people who found running a torturous way to get fit, there’s happy news. According to a study published by the Life Sciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, walking as exercise leads to better weight loss and overall health improvement than running. More and more experts now advise against excessive running as the health risks of running outweigh the health benefits. Running means you are basically shocking and jolting your joints and if you have a history of joint or bone-related problems in your family, it’s probably best if you walk briskly, instead of running.
The Benefits of a Brisk Walk
If you feel that most running is good exercise but is taking a toll on your body, you might want to switch to walking. The great thing about walking is that it’s free, can be done anytime, from anywhere and doesn’t need for you to go all out and get any special equipment – and since you can pace yourself, it doesn’t put any undue stress or strain on any part of your body.
Also, remember that walking at about 8 km per hour (about 5 mph) can actually burn more calories than, say, running at about 7 km per hour (about 4.3 mph) – it’s all about the walking speed. All you need is an open mind, perhaps your iPod, a clean and open road, a sturdy pair of sneakers and just a little time at hand. There are also plenty benefits to be reaped if you walk barefoot…
Just remember to walk briskly – you should feel the physical stress and pull – ambling is good for the soul, but not really an exercise.
How much should I walk?
Experts feel a 30-minute exercise bout a day is good for most people. Some people may need more if they are combating lifestyle or genetic health problems but taking baby steps is the way to go. If you tire and overstrain your unused muscles for an hour the very first day, it will be an effort to go walking the next. Start slow and build up your stamina to be able to keep it up in the long run, rather, walk.
Make Your Walk More Interesting
Alternate your routes – keep changing where you choose to go walking as exercise. A park, the pathway next to your home, the stairs to office, window shopping at the mall, walking to the doggy park, join your family at the play center – all of these ideas will get you the exercise! Alternate your walking shoes too, as well as the music you listen too for a mood boost. Or try these five unusual tips that make for an interesting walk instead:
- Become a rock collector: A good idea to make for an interesting walk it to keep switching routes – this also helps in making for a safer walk since being too predictable is considered a risk factor. To make it interesting, make it a point to collect any and all interesting rocks that you see and make a small landscape corner in your garden, where you can keep piling those rocks.
- Doesn’t have to be rocks: Remember that you can collect anything and everything that strikes your fancy – leaves, flowers, feathers, shells if you are lucky enough to live near a beach and so on – this collector’s fancy will also make you add to your exercise by making you bend, or stretch. Could even be wildflowers for your kitchen vase…
- Try to catch the sunrise, or sunset: Depending on when you have time, try walking to the point where you can catch the dawn or the dusk – those golden sun rays will give you an added boost of inspiration.
- Get the kids or dog along: If you have kids, rouse them off their behinds and drag them along for an invigorating walk – make it a walking race to make it more interesting, running will disqualify you. Else, take the dog along, with a trusty old ball or stick for him to play fetch with you as well.
- Try monetary inspiration: For every day that you walk, put in a buck or ten (as much as you can afford) in a special piggy bank. At the end of the month reward yourself – it could be something you had wanted to buy for yourself, for the kids or family or even a donation to your favorite charity.