How Walking Can Improve Your Health, Fitness, Happiness, and Longevity.
Walking is a funny thing; we have legs so we can walk, and walking is one of the most basic primal movements. However, most people do everything they can to avoid walking and using those fantastic things we have called legs! Instead, preferring to take the elevator or escalator up and down a few floors, a car or taxi to the restaurant three blocks away, anything to avoid walking. Why is that so? Convenience, society, culture, laziness, habit? Probably, all of the above.
Daily Walking Goal.
My goal is fifteen thousand steps a day with one or two longer walks and multiple short walks. I’ve made walking my main hobby because it supports my heart health, blood pressure, overall strength, and mindset, and its fun. Scientific reports have shown significant benefits if you increase your daily steps to fifteen thousand.
I’ve been saying that walking is the best thing you can do for your body and mind ever since I embarked on my health journey in 2016. My right knee had just been replaced with a titanium prosthesis after a ski racing accident in 1990.
To my surprise, I was told to bike and walk (a lot) to recover. Both activities were hellishly painful at the time, and I spent the first week cursing myself and the doctor who did this to me! However, it was a blessing in disguise, as this process made me realize how beneficial walking was.
Despite having to walk on a leg that a few days ago was battered, chiseled, and drilled, I noticed rapid improvements walk by walk — improvements both in mind and body.
Keto – Primal Living.
During my recovery period, I stumbled upon the Keto-Primal-Lifestyle and took the Primal Health Coach Institute’s course. Until this point, I hadn’t heard of Keto-Primal-Ancestral living and its health benefits. Once I studied ancestral health, I started to understand a few things about the then state of my body and mind, and I retook charge of myself.
I haven’t looked back since! Recently, I’ve been noticing more and more articles popping up about walking, on social media and various news outlets. Even some health experts I follow who had previously not mentioned walking as an essential part of our lives have now interestingly joined the discussion.
It appears even these experts have to give in to this reality, instead of only pushing their subscriptions.
The Importance of Walking.
Just to let you know, by walking, I mean “fast-paced” walking or “power-walking.” Strolling around doesn’t count, well, it does, but it serves another purpose, with more on that later (mindful and meditative walking). So why is walking so important? Let’s take a look at the benefits of my personal experience, from clients I have coached, as well as scientific evidence:
Physical Benefits of Walking:
- Burns fat, as walking is a cardio exercise that keeps you within the aerobic fat burning zone of 180 maximum heart rate, minus your age. Running, biking, rowing, and other similar cardio categorized exercises often kick you out of that aerobic zone where you are no longer burning fat.
- Walking helps you lose weight.
- You will lower your blood pressure.
- Walking will lower your stroke risk.
- Easy on your joints, especially ankles, knees, and back, compared to running, which pounds ankles, knees, and back, causing injury and arthritis over time.
- Walking builds bone strength, as the low impact supports bone density.
- Walking is excellent for your heart health, as your heart is never overstressed while walking, but is being trained efficiently at a safe heart rate.
- Stimulates all of your organs to work more efficiently.
- Fantastic for your legs, especially if you walk in the sand, or are trekking hills, in forests, or hiking. Walking builds powerful and lean muscles.
- Have a headache? Walking in the fresh air will help get rid of it.
- Are you feeling tired or sluggish in the morning? A fast-paced walk will bring a spring back in your step.
- Maybe you are feeling stiff from a long-distance flight or car ride? Walk it off, it works.
- Jetlagged from the 14-hour time zone difference? An hour’s power walk will soothe the symptoms.
- Combining walking with a bodyweight workout, which I call my Primal Trek, is one of the absolute best ways to strength train and burn fat. It’s way more fun and far more enjoyable than slugging away in the gym!
- Poor posture, from your desk job and slouching? Walking corrects posture. All you need to do is to make sure you are walking standing up straight, shoulders back and chest out, not hunched over with shoulders hanging forward.
- Barefoot: Walking connects you with nature and is grounding at any time. Barefoot walking, especially in the sand, grass, or dirt, stimulates the muscles and nerves in the feet and creates a deeper connection to the earth. It restores our natural walking pattern, builds stronger leg muscles, which are vital for lower back support.
The Bodyweight Primal Trek Workout:
- Cut stress and anxiety by walking fast-paced in nature.
- Is your mind blocked, you can’t focus on work or life? Go for a walk, and it will free your mind and stimulate the creative side of your brain.
- Decisions, decisions, decisions, and can’t make them? Walking, stop thinking, and your mind will align itself again and help you come to sensible conclusions.
- Depression is one of the hardest illnesses to overcome. I suffered from depression for several years, at first, not realizing what it was, but once I did, walking and meditation are what helped me the most.
- Angry, disappointed, or any other negative emotions? Walking will relax you, calm your mind, and bring back a sense of balance.
- Don’t like to sit still and meditate? As I mentioned above, this is where “strolling walking” is worth gold. I have practiced this for years as well. Stopping to smell the roses certainly works. Mindful meditative walking is what I call this exercise, and this is how it’s done; walk at a slower pace, look around at your environment and take it all in. Then stop, breathe, and smile, and be thankful to be able to be there, healthy and alive.
- You are feeling lazy and sluggish, but guilty because you haven’t exercised all day? Then walking is your answer. Just get outside rain or shine, cold or warm, and walk fast-paced for half an hour. You will feel much better, in body and mind!
- THE best thing to do to improve our overall health and longevity.www.consumerreports.org
- Walking can lower the risk of cancer. www.cancer.org
- Longer life. In a review of studies published in 2014 in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, researchers found that walking for roughly 3 hours a week was associated with an 11 percent reduced risk of premature death compared with those who did little or no activity.
- Better memory and cognitive function. A clinical trial of older adults in Japan published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in 2015 found that after 12 weeks, men and women in a prescribed daily walking exercise group had significantly greater improvements in memory.
“Fifteen Thousand Steps A Day Keeps The Doctor Away” is a far more accurate saying than an apple a day keeps the doctor away. What do you think?
In a Nutshell:
What more need I say? The path to weight loss, strength, a calm mind, and overall good health are way more accessible than most people think- it’s a walk in the park!
Okay, that’s a slight oversimplification as several key factors play a role in your overall health, such as the right nutrition, lifestyle habits, stress levels, sleep, work, financials, and so on. However, as you can see from this article, walking can significantly support our health and wellbeing across the board, physically and psychologically, and it’s not just me making this up!
Being a healthier person, losing weight and improving muscle mass does not need to be as daunting as the health and fitness industry, and the “experts” say. The health and fitness industry is only interested in making money; they are NOT interested in your actual health and well being.
You do not need to join a gym or buy expensive subscriptions, join all kinds of groups or personal workout classes; there is a much easier path to health, fitness, and happiness.
My main message to you here is simple; take control of your health, take control of your life, get outside (or inside on a treadmill) walk and move as much as you can, move your body in natural ways every day. There is no need to be intimidated, as Nike says, “Just Do It” (interesting to see how this slogan was inspired).
As always, thanks for reading.
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Former Olympic Athlete & Certified Health Coach, Writer.
“It is my mission to educate people on how to lose weight, how to build a healthy, strong heart, body, and mind, supporting a longer life.”