Walking: Exercise without the effort

Walking. We all do it every day, and usually don't even think of it as exercise. And yet, it's an excellent form of improving health that is extremely easy to incorporate into everyday life.

Lunch breaks in the workplace are usually a wasted hour, spent scrolling through various social media feeds or idly chatting. However, this is an excellent opportunity to walk a couple of miles and get the heart rate raised a tiny bit. Or, if this isn't an option, getting off the bus a stop or two earlier can let you discover hidden parts of the local area.

It helps to have something to listen to, and as there's plenty of time to look carefully at crossings etc (unlike running), headphones aren't a safety risk. Whilst services like Spotify offer streaming of almost any song (and even offline playback if premium is purchased), audiobooks are a viable alternative. Non-fiction audiobooks help ensure the lunch break is doubly productive, whereas fiction can be more engaging and provide additional motivation to walk the full route planned (for me it's Isaac Asimov every time!).

Walking with someone, a colleague or partner perhaps, can also provide excellent motivation. Additionally, it's a perfect way to bond, since the walk through city or countryside will provide plenty of talking points.

Health benefits

These walks can easily burn 200+ calories, and a good target to aim for is 10,000 steps. Luckily, these days keeping track of steps taken no longer requires purchasing an additional pedometer. Instead, installing an app such as Google Fit will do all of the work for you, as well as keeping a record of the days the goal was achieved. Besides weight loss and improving core (and leg!) muscles, walking outside has a massive range of health benefits:

  • Strengthens the heart.
  • Lowers risk of type 2 diabetes, asthma, and some cancers.
  • Helps prevent dementia.
  • Improves bone strength.
  • Boosts vitamin D levels.
  • Releases endorphins, thereby improving your mood.
Walking is an excellent free way to get started on the road to healthier living, and requires nothing besides time. As it isn't an intense workout as jogging or cycling is, it doesn't require a shower or a change of clothes after a session. This means it can be done at any time, anywhere, in almost any clothing. 

Now get out there and start walking!
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