A daily movement practice is essential to long-term health, both physically and mentally. Being a Pilates Instructor, I am a huge fan of regular structured exercise that increases the heart rate and challenges our muscles. This can look like a private Pilates session with an instructor, rolling out the mat between meetings, hopping on the spin bike for a virtual session, or heading to the gym for cardio or weight training. However, unstructured low-impact exercise like walking is often discounted as either not exercise or a waste of time, which is a huge mistake.
For many people, particularly the under 65 crowd, this type of movement might not feel like working out. Steady-state low impact exercise, like walking, has been shown time and time again to have long-term physical and mental health benefits.
Here are four reasons why you should be walking more:
- It’s free! Walking around your neighborhood or through a local park is free. Who doesn’t like free?
- Great for mental health and minimizing stress. A brisk walk around your neighborhood is a fantastic way to clear your head, solve problems and build creativity. If you want even more bang for your buck, invite a friend and make it social. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that social connections are invaluable to our overall health and wellbeing. I also love to set a walking phone date to connect with a friend who might not live close.
- Its low-impact nature is gentle on your body so that anyone can do it! You can build endurance, strengthen joints and improve bone health without putting too much strain or stress on your body. Keeping you moving without overstraining the body will not negatively impact your other exercises or fitness pursuits.
- A regular walking habit has been shown to decrease your overall risk for many issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. Sounds good to me!
Walking also falls into the category of “Active Rest.”
Active rest is a movement that might not feel like working out, like taking a walk around the neighborhood. This could also be playing in the backyard chasing your dog or kids. Taking a fun, easy hike or bike ride with family or friends. This type of movement that happens away from the mat, studio, or gym is critical for maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle plus, it can be social and is great for your mental and physical health.
Active rest is essential for combating burnout and for recovery. Trust me, giving your body time to recover and recharge will help you get much more out of your workouts as well as improve your overall health, mood, and wellbeing!
So lace up your shoes, invite a friend and get moving!