I’m BEGGING you to walk more

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Ryan Day Coaching

If you’ve known me a while, you know how much I love walking.  If you’re new here, first off – Welcome! We’re happy to have you!  Second – I apologize in advance if you get sick of hearing me talk about walking.

But it’s THAT important.  

Walking is the most simple and underrated exercise in the book.  It takes almost no effort, 99% of the population can do it, you do it every day already, and the risk-reward tradeoff is arguably the best of any form of exercise.

Today we’re going to discuss two things – the benefits of walking and how you can walk more.  Let’s get after it.

Productivity Benefits

Have you ever sat at your desk working for two or three hours straight?  At what point did you feel like you hit a wall? Maybe you had to re-read the same line of text five times before you understood it.

I can’t tell you how many times a walk has saved me from hours of unproductive work.  Walking has been shown to increase creative output, cognition, and attention span.  Any time I feel like I’m starting to drag, I go walk for five or ten minutes and I’m ready to go again.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US.  Sad, but true.  

Lucky for us, walking has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, strokes, and high blood pressure. In fact, before I started walking regularly my systolic blood pressure (top number) was regularly between 125 and 135.  Since I became intentional about walking, it now hovers between 105 and 115.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Side note: please go to the doctor for your annual check-ups and blood work!  You can significantly lower your risk of heart disease by taking preventative steps (no pun intended).

Weight Management

Weight loss and weight management come down to calories in vs calories out.  Regular walking means increased activity and increased calorie burn, which can help with weight management.  On top of that, reducing your amount of body fat contributes positively to your heart health.  Two-for-one special.

Mental Health

The power of this one surprised me.  I lost my dad a little over two years ago, and walking is what kept me sane.  I used it as a way to get time alone to process my thoughts and emotions, and it worked wonders.  The science supports this too – a 2022 systematic review shows that even small doses of walking were associated with substantially improved mental health.  

Joint-Friendly Exercise

Walking is a low-impact exercise. Unlike running or high-intensity workouts, it’s kind to your joints, which means just about anybody can do it pain-free.  This is super important for people who are just starting on their fitness journey and don’t really need to be jumping into extreme workouts out of the gate.  It’s also important as we get older when the types of exercise most people can do without pain tends to dwindle.  

Social Health

Another not-so-obvious benefit is the social aspect of walking.  It’s so easy to just grab a friend or family member and go for a walk or to use part of your lunch break to go for a walk with a coworker.  You’re killing two birds with one stone (sorry PETA) by improving your physical health and improving a relationship.  Win-win!

How Much Should You Walk?

The million-dollar question, to which I’m not going to give you a direct answer (sorry lol).  Just like each person’s diet and workout programming need to be different, the amount of walking each person should do varies WIDELY.  

Having said that, my blanket advice for most people is to shoot for 8,000 steps per day.  This number keeps you relatively active throughout the day and is a realistic goal.  We want to find that sweet spot that keeps you motivated without being so much of a chore that it deters you from walking at all, and I find 8,000 is a nice number to do that.  Remember – consistency is king. 👑

Easy Ways to Walk More

Now that we’ve talked about all the reasons you should be walking more, let’s figure out how we can get to that magic number of 8,000 a little easier.  

Walking Meetings

If your job allows for it, taking meetings outside or even through the halls if you’re in a big building can be so beneficial.  It keeps everyone’s brain engaged and helps you get a few more steps in.

Post-Meal Strolls

I love this one for a couple reasons.  First, routinely walking for 5 or 10 minutes after every meal is an easy way to establish a habit.  Second, a light stroll after eating can help significantly with digestion.  Another win-win!

Park Far Away

Most people roll their eyes at this, but I swear it adds up.  Park farther away when you go to the grocery store, work, or wherever else.  A few hundred extra steps here and there adds up over the day.

Take the Stairs

Another eye-roll inducer, I know.  But this one also has a double benefit – not only does it add on to your step count, but it slightly raises your heart rate which gives you a nice little one- or two-minute bout of exercise.  These things add up!

The Buddy System

Find a walking buddy if you want!  We mentioned it above, but having someone to chat with can make the walk more enjoyable and also helps with accountability.

Walking the Dog

This one is so easy.  Your dog needs exercise, you need exercise. Take it on a walk, and you both win.  Two ten-minute walks a day and you have ~2,000 steps right there.

Track your Steps Religiously

My favorite.  I have a spreadsheet on my phone that I update every day.  It has a goal of 8,000 steps for every day of the year, and I update it every morning with my steps from the previous day.  I don’t hit 8,000 every day, but it’s the best awareness and accountability tool that I’ve found.  It keeps me honest and on-track to achieve my ultimate goal, which is a healthy heart, body, and mind.

I cannot overstate the benefits of walking.  Does this mean walking is all you need to do?  No.  You still need to eat foods that nourish your body, and most people will need to do some more vigorous exercise than walking alone.  

That said, I really believe walking is the single best gateway to better health.  It’s such a simple, yet effective way to either get you started on your health journey or keep you consistent if you’re already on it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it many more times – Health is not complicated.  Simple things make the biggest impact.  Walking is one of these simple things.  

Go for a walk today.