ONE SIMPLE HABIT TO KICK-START AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
Updated: a day ago
Physical activity is a key component of overall health. Contrary to popular belief, it is not reserved for those who want to lose weight or get into peak physical shape. It also does not need to entail killing yourself at the gym. Regular exercise is extremely important in maintaining and optimizing health, and both preventing and reversing a long list of health complications. You might not feel the effects of a sedentary lifestyle today, but you will in time.
21 SIMPLE IDEAS TO GET MOVING!
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SO WHAT'S STOPPING YOU?
Time? Intimidated by the gym? Have no idea where to start? Don't know how? Find it too hard? Stuck in a rut? Hate getting sweaty? Don't own any exercise clothes? Lacking motivation? Have no one to go with? Find it unenjoyable? Don't know what to do? Have better things to do? Feel as though you are physically unable? Worried you won't be able to keep up? Self-conscious? Afraid of being judged? Lacking support? Procrastination?
All of the above?
The excuses go on and on and on . . . and are completely valid!
Incorporating exercise into your lifestyle can be scary and intimidating if it is completely new. It can seem pointless if you are currently at a healthy weight and have no health issues. Finding the motivation to exercise can also be challenging, especially if you have only ever know 1 or 2 forms and they were not your cup of tea.
I've got great news!
What if I told you there was a form of exercise that would reap all the health benefits AND meet the following criteria?
You can wear anything you want (although 4 inch heels may be a challenge).
You can do it without getting sweaty or needing a shower afterwards.
You can do it indoors, outdoors, or even on the spot.
You can do it while inhaling coffee.
You can do it alone, alongside your dog, with a friend, or as part of a group.
You can do it nearly anywhere (even the shopping mall!).
You can do it while talking on the phone.
You can listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks at the same time.
You can excel at it without any experience.
You can hold hands while doing it.
You don't need any special equipment.
It is low impact.
You can do it at any age, height and weight.
You can (usually) still do it when you are injured.
You can do it anytime of day, in any weather condition.
It is free!
What, you ask, is this extraordinary form of exercise?
It is what you do when you move your legs in opposition to get from point A to point B. It is a basic human function sometimes referred to as "gait" or "ambulation." Humans seem to be gradually doing less and less of it.
It is a walk in the park . . . literally!
Walking is the most underrated, yet beneficial, form of exercise out there.
It is something you do all the time anyways, and probably not enough of. It is a basic human behaviour many of us take for granted. Anyone with 2 functioning legs can do it. If you can walk to the kitchen for a snack you meet the criteria to go for a walk. That's all there is to it. Our legs are meant for walking, start using them!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WALKING?
Walking, despite how easy it can be, is in fact exercise, and regular exercise comes with a long list of health benefits.
Walking is typically done outdoors in the fresh air. Fresh air has been scientifically proven to help improve energy levels, stress, mental health, happiness, sleep and immune function.
Unless you are a baby or were previously paralyzed, there is no learning curve associated with walking.
Walking burns calories and can help with weight loss or maintenance. Depending upon a few factors (such as speed, incline and your weight) you can burn 60 to 150+ calories per mile you walk.
There is nothing threatening or intimidating about going for a walk.
You can walk on your own terms and schedule.
Walking is a great social activity.
Walking can help with lower back pain by improving flexibility and strengthening the muscles that support your spine.
Walking strengthens bones/joints and helps maintain bone density to prevent osteoporosis as you age.
Walking is low impact, and is an easy way for seniors to stay active and preserve their independence.
Walking has been proven to help relieve stress.
For most people, walking is enjoyable.
With repetition, it is easy to progress your walking duration, speed and frequency.
You can often still walk when recovering from injuries preventing participation in more physical forms of exercise.
You can do it on a whim with little to no planning.
Walking keeps you busy, which reduces the chance of munching on unhealthy snacks and other unhealthy behaviours.
Walking is the most accessible form of exercise.
You can often still walk if your mobility is impaired, with the help of a cane or walker.
Walking is an effective gateway to other, more physically challenging forms of exercise and an active, healthy lifestyle.
WALKING AS A GATEWAY TO AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE Physical inactivity is a global epidemic which is taking a toll on our health and costing the health care system billions. Unfortunately, many people believe that physical activity needs to include long, intensive gym sessions for it to be beneficial, and as a result, skip out on exercising all together. Fear of the unknown, including what to expect, if you will be physically or mentally able to do it, how you will look doing it, what others will think, and if you will hate it, are more than enough to deter someone.
Getting active and reaping the health benefits of exercising doesn’t need to be that hard. Walking is a relatively simple and unthreatening entry point into the world of exercise, and although walking itself can be enough, it is a proven gateway to more physically demanding forms of exercise. Deciding to start walking does not mean it needs to end there. Not only can you progressively increase your walking speed, duration and frequency, regular walking can give you the desire, motivation, and confidence to explore alternate forms of exercise you otherwise may not have tried. Think of walking as the marijuana of the exercise world, but in a good way!
Get walking! That's all there is to it. Move your body. Work your muscles. Reap the health benefits. Don't wait until next week, month, or year. Start today. If you are starting from nothing, setting a goal to walk even 2x per week is progress. Head over to the goal setting page for help setting goals that will stick. You can also subscribe for two free printable goal setting worksheets to simplify the process.
If my 85 year old neighbour can walk 4x per day, so can you!
Please consult with your doctor prior to making any significant changes to your level of physical activity and if you answered yes to any questions in the PAR-Q.