When it comes to staying in shape, there are plenty of workouts that jump to mind. Your mind is filled with images of hitting the treadmill at the gym, straining under some hefty weights, or powering through the water at your local pool. However, there’s one kind of exercise that never really seems to get the credit that it’s due: walking. This comes from the idea that, unless you’re sweating like a pig or causing yourself some serious pain, you’re not getting a decent workout. Now, it hardly takes a fitness expert to realize that this is a completely ridiculous idea. After, any form of exercise can be incredibly useful as long as you’re doing it regularly and mixing it with a healthy lifestyle. But the benefits of walking don’t just stop there. There are plenty of reasons why walking might well be the best workout there is.
Let’s face it, could there be an easier exercise than walking? You don’t need any equipment, and you certainly don’t need any kind of special training. With the exception of those suffering from any form of disability that prevents them from walking, it’s the kind of exercise that just about anyone can do. It’s as simple as getting up off the couch and taking the time to be even slightly active. You can do it any time of day, no matter what you’re doing. You can do it during your lunch break; you can take the kids out to the park, so you all get some fresh air. There’s no better way to wake yourself up in the morning or to relax yourself before you go to sleep in the evening.
It’s low impact
Many people struggle with a lot of different types of workouts because of the fact that they can’t do much high-impact exercise. This could be because of any number of reasons, including age or a possible injury in the past. Fortunately, walking is exactly the kind of exercise that is perfect for anyone in this position. You get to set the pace and difficulty yourself by having control over where you walk and for how long. Not only that but there are things like trekking poles and specially designed footwear to take as much of the impact out of walking as possible. You’ll find that, as your strength grows, you’ll be able to adjust your walks to make them into more challenging and effective workouts.
One of the most frustrating things is knowing that there’s a gym membership that’s just draining money from your bank account for no good reason. Either that or a bunch of expensive workout gear that’s just taking up space in your garage. The great thing about walking is that you don’t have to spend a penny on it. If you’re planning on making it into a serious workout, then you may want to invest in some decent apparel, after all, you don’t want to walk for miles at a time in hard, uncomfortable shoes. However, that kind of thing is hardly a prerequisite for being able to take on a more active and healthy lifestyle. Your workout space is anywhere you like, whether it’s taking a trip around the block near your house or perhaps hiking on one of the many nature trails that there are throughout the country. The world is big and varied enough that you’ll always be able to find somewhere enjoyable to spend your time while staying in shape.
It burns calories
Cardio should be the cornerstone of any workout. Now, it’s certainly true that there are problems with making cardio the only kind of exercise that you do but many people aren’t in a position to start lifting heavy weights, and it’s better to do some exercise rather than giving up entirely because you’re not in a position to work out in what some people consider to be the “optimal” way. Walking burns a lot of calories considering how low impact it is. It gets your heart pumping and your muscles working hard, helping you lose weight and keep it off.
It builds muscle
The issue that a lot of people have with cardio-centric workouts is that they claim they don’t help you build enough muscle. Now, there’s no doubt that walking isn’t going to build muscle as effectively as lifting weights, but those two different workouts are aiming for two different things. If you’re looking to bulk up then yes, strength training is ideal, but if you’re looking to lose some weight, build stamina and tone yourself up, walking is still an incredibly effective workout. Even as a low-impact workout, walking still helps you build a lot of muscle in your lower body as well as helping you slim down.
It keeps your brain working
We spend huge amounts of our lives sedentary, and that can have a serious negative impact on people’s ability to think intelligently and creatively. Sitting around all day, doing nothing can leave you feeling slow, tired and frustrated. Plenty of research shows that walking regularly can help clear your mind and get your creative juices flowing more easily. If you’re at work and you feel as though you’re getting stuck on a tricky problem, take some time to go for a short walk, and you’re likely to find yourself feeling much more inspired.
So don’t assume that walking is a workout that’s only really worthwhile for anyone who can’t do other things. As effective as gyms and specialized equipment can be, they can often just end up being more of a barrier to your workout than anything else. By taking things back to basics and starting with a simple, small workout like taking a twenty-minute walk every day, you’ll be able to get to grips with keeping fit far more easily. Over time you might increase the lengths of your walks or even start to incorporate more intense exercise into your daily workout, but it’s important never to push yourself harder that what you’re capable of.