If you are finding yourself struggling with finding the energy to exercise, you are not alone! This year has been a tough one for most. Finding the time or motivation for self-care is understandably difficult when there are barriers such as gyms closing or lowering their capacity, but we also can’t forget to acknowledge the disorienting and scary nature of the global pandemic swirling around us.
Benefits of walking
As we know, being physically active reduces the risk of developing health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It can also be beneficial for weight loss and maintenance. Considering these benefits, exercising even a little is better than not at all. Luckily, one of the safest ways to ease into getting more exercise right now is simply by walking! Not only is it free, low risk and accessible to most, walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise to incorporate into your day to day.
Did you know that (depending on your weight, sex, and height) when you walk at a brisk pace, you burn around 100 to 300 calories in 30 minutes? And walking up a hill can burn even more! Plus, walking helps to preserve lean muscle; so, if you have already lost weight and are focusing on maintenance, walking can help counter the effect of any muscle that may have been lost while you were shedding fat and losing weight.
The benefits that walking has for our mental health are also indisputable. Physical activity in general has been shown to improve mood, decrease feelings of stress and the symptoms of depression and anxiety. But also, being outside in nature and breathing in the fresh air is the perfect environment to practice mindfulness – it allows one to notice things around them that would otherwise remain unnoticed (think your neighbour’s flowers, street art, cats in windows).
How to increase the amount of walking you do
As easy as walking is, we often put off new tasks that we give ourselves, as they have yet to become a habit. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Use a fitness tracker and log your steps. This is hugely motivating for a lot of people!
- Make a habit of taking a brisk walk on your lunch break or after dinner. Choosing a certain time every day is a good idea.
- Ask a friend to join you for an evening walk. This makes it more fun! Talking on the phone or video chatting works great as well.
- Walk your dog every day.
- Do errands like taking the kids to school or going to the store on foot. Leaving a little earlier every day to fit your walk in will become easier over time.
- Walk to work. If it’s too far, park your car further away or get off your bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way.
- Try picking new and challenging routes to keep your walks interesting.
Every little bit helps, so start small and try to gradually increase the amount you walk daily!
Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/walking-for-weight-loss https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-walking#heart-health https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/walking-for-good-health#:~:text=Walking%20is%20a%20great%20way,boost%20muscle%20power%20and%20endurance.