There’s a lot of reasons why we don’t workout. Sometimes it’s a lack of motivation or a feeling of exhaustion after a long day. Maybe it’s a busy schedule or a lack of finances to join a motivating gym. And for others, it’s ability level, whether it be starting up an exercise routine after a long time away or physical limitations that prevent someone from working out in the traditional sense. Some of these are excuses and some are legitimate reasons. Whatever the case may be, getting into a workout routine is difficult for many.
While I’d love to have a more toned body or be able to run without my lungs hurting, I’ve learned that I can live a healthier life if I just walk.
Movement is movement.
While I may dream of a day where I can run a marathon, it may not be realistic. It’s not a valid reason to stay stagnant. I don’t have to run to be healthy or to make progress. Studies show that just adding a total of 30 minutes of walking a day can improve circulation, cardiovascular fitness and sleep, improve moods and memory cognition, decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s, strengthen bones and muscles, help to maintain or lose weight, increase endurance and strengthen the immune system. Simply put, a daily regular routine of walking has many health benefits, it’s free, and most of us are blessed with the ability to do it (whether it’s fast or slow!).
When I first started increasing my movement, I used my Fitbit to track my steps. Every day my goal was 10,000 steps. You can get a baseline for where you are now and set a realistic goal, increasing as time goes on.
I started introducing different strategies into my routine to help me reach my goal.
When I went to the store, instead of stalking someone in the parking lot for a close spot and wasting a few minutes of time, I reasoned that I’d spend the same amount of time or even less if I just parked farther away where there were open spots. I’d save time and I’d increase my steps! If my bed time was nearing and I hadn’t reached my step goal but was close, I’d find something in the house that needed to be done. Whether it was sweeping the kitchen, vacuuming the living room, putting dishes away, etc., I’d do a task in my house that would need to be done at some point and do it just then to make sure I obtained my goal.
When Covid hit and my job turned rather sedentary, what was once a very easy task of 10,000 steps a day, became more difficult. Every hour I’d set an alarm to get up and walk a lap around my office or the building. When a job is sedentary, it can be difficult to reach your goals of movement if you’re not intentional. Just simply adding a lap every hour to the restroom or around the building will increase circulation and improve your health. Recently I rescued a dog and that’s added to my step goal, as well as my active minutes in a day. I take him for a walk several times a day. If for whatever reason I’m not near my step goal, he gets a longer walk!
It’s rare that I have to seek out these tactics at this point, because after several years of having a step and movement goal, I’ve been able to reach it the majority of the time. Some of my tactics are ingrained in me like parking farther away, but mostly, without even recognizing it at the time, it’s become easier for me to be active just by simply increasing my walking intentionally to start. I just want to encourage you that movement is movement regardless of your ability. There are so many benefits to adding just 30 minutes of walking to your day. Instead of worrying about getting to the gym or how you will fit it into your busy schedule, just walk.
What’s your current movement goal?
Author: Dana Perich, Lifestyle Mentor