Not everyone enjoys running or cycling, but most of us can walk. The return on the investment of walking is a form of exercise can be profound in terms of physical and mental benefits. With much of the world practicing social distancing and working remotely and from our homes, walking can help clear your head to offset ‘cabin fever’.
Last week (Monday 30th March), I wrote about the benefits of walking, in acknowledgement of ‘National Take a Walk in the Park Day’ in the US. Walking or any type of aerobic exercise is a great way to supplement the muscle strength and endurance exercise challenges we have been advocating at My AgeFit [Challenge 1 and Challenge 2]. A walking challenge at this time may suit you better than the 5 km Run Challenge that we suggested last week.
The My AgeFit Walking Challenge below can be performed over the next 6 weeks and beyond, and in tandem with the challenges involving muscular strength and endurance.
Here is the challenge:
1. Follow the 5km Run Challenge Plan replacing running with brisk walking (adjust your distance as appropriate)
. . . . OR . . . .
2. Briskly walk for 20– to 30–minutes daily for 6 weeks.
Create variations and build challenges in your walking routine
- Take different routes for scenic variety
- Walk routes that includes hilly terrain
- Walk with small hand weights to engage your arms
- Make use of outdoor stairs (along paths or at a stadium) or those indoor.
Whatever you choose, start walking and moving to initiate a life-changing habit.
Below are answers to questions in this time of staying at home to be safer and to slow the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
The recommended activity guidelines for optimal health benefits includes 30 minutes a day for five days (or 150 minutes) per week of moderate exercise, and brisk walking is one of those activities. People who meet these guidelines typically enjoy protection against many diseases or better management of disease and disorders. Some of these include cardiovascular disease, neuromuscular disorders, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, pain conditions and depressive disorders. Furthermore, moderate intensity exercise such as walking can boost your immune system to help protect against infections and disease, and improve your quality of sleep!
Our daily exercise routines have been upended with the cancellation of sporting activities, and the closure of gyms and pools. We now need to create new habits in our daily routines to reach the recommended 10,000 steps per day for optimal health outcomes. However, with safer-at-home directives now in place in many places around the world, it is a struggle to achieve that goal without purposeful intervention on our own part. A daily walk will help you achieve the recommended number of steps.
I am not permitted to go outside. Are there specific benefits of exercising and walking outdoors versus indoors?
Walking outside in the fresh air can be mentally and physically invigorating. However, when you have barriers to getting outside, such as inclement weather, safety concerns, health reasons or you need to be isolated, then exercising indoors is the next-best option. The primary goal is to move, elevate the heart rate and contract your muscles — so walking in and around your living area or walking on a personal treadmill can achieve similar physical benefits to walking outside. If these are not possible, then an indoor exercise challenge [Challenge 1 and Challenge 2] are a must. Remember that exercise will clear your mind and be beneficial no matter if it is inside or outside.
Top Walking Tips – while respecting physical distancing:
- Ensure that you wear supportive and comfortable shoes designed for walking distances.
- Be aware of your posture, standing upright, with your head up, chin slightly tucked, and shoulders relaxed, down and back as you walk. This is especially important if you have been sitting for much of the day or choose to walk with hand weights.
- Adopt a brisk walking pace to elevate your heart rate. If you cannot maintain a brisk pace, try alternating between a fast tempo and comfortable pace in regular intervals.
- If you venture outside, ensure that you wear appropriate layered clothing, depending on the climate where you reside.
Establish a walking habit daily – even when you feel your schedule is overloaded — and make it a priority. Even a 15 min walk could make a big difference to you. Here are some tips and strategies to create these habits and stay accountable.
Keep yourself accountable?
- Buddy up with a friend and text your friend when you have completed each walking session and then again at the end of the week! Send them an “accomplishment emoji”. Day 1 💪; Day 2 😎….
- Join us in our dedicated Facebook group. Let us know how you are going along the way.
We will post another muscle strength and endurance challenge next week!
Please note, walk and exercise within your capabilities. This should be challenging but not painful. If you are experiencing excessive or unusual pain seek medical advice.