I have always wanted to be one of those people who can say, “Oh I ran 10k and then popped into work”, but I have never been that person. First of all, I hate running. I feel like I look like an idiot in trouble, flailing my way through the neighborhood. Second, I always end up pulling or hurting something. I blame my footwear, the curb, or a lack of attention, but to be honest, I’m a bit of a klutz. Third, it’s terrible for your joints and spine, especially if you are older.
I walk. I walk a lot. I get sore, but I don’t get injured. I strengthen my bones without stressing them. My neighbors encourage me, instead of calling the police, and I feel better than I have in a long time.
Researchers analyzed 33,060 runners in the National Runners’ Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers’ Health Study. They found that the same energy used for moderate- intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease over the study’s six years. I love the fact that I do not have to run to reap these benefits. The biggest thing is consistency and challenging yourself. Here are some of the concerns people have before starting a program.
“I have no place to walk” – use any exercise equipment available, the track at a local school, the stairs at work or drive somewhere pretty so you can enjoy nature or a nice view.
“I get bored” – walk with a friend or your dog, change up your locations, listen to music or a podcast. I keep a book always downloaded on my phone and I’m only allowed to listen to it while I’m exercising. Some days I’m tearing out of the house just to see what happens next. If you read scary books, walk in the daylight (experience talking).And send me a note about what you are listening to. I love suggestions.
“I just had surgery or a heart attack” – this is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just ask your physician and regulate your speed, time and energy to gradually increase your stamina.
There are benefits, as listed above, but there are others. Weight loss, meeting the neighbors, hanging out with friends you might not have time to see otherwise, better sleep, decreased stress and bragging rights as in “I do 3 miles every night”. If you are a fit-bit person, steps are always a good reference.
Remember, if you enjoy something you are more likely to keep doing it, so buy a good pair of walking shoes (best), runners (second best) or cross-trainers (third best) and get moving. 30-60 minutes a day, 5 times a week will change your life and your body.
- Caramia C, Bernabucci I, D'Anna C, De Marchis C, Schmid M. Gait parameters are differently affected by concurrent smartphone-based activities with scaled levels of cognitive effort. PLoS One. 2017;12(10):e0185825. PubMed PMID: 29023456
- Morris CE, Garner JC, Owens SG, Valliant MW, Debusk H, Loftin M. A Prospective Study Comparing Distance-based vs. Time-based Exercise Prescriptions of Walking and Running in Previously Sedentary Overweight Adults. Int J Exerc Sci. 2017;10(5):782-797. PubMed PMID: 28966715