Motivation to Exercise: Just Walking Is Powerful

Do you ever feel embarrassed about walking for exercise?  Somehow the runners, joggers, and bikers of the world have a way of making us walkers feel bad.  It’s not their fault and it’s not our fault either.  The stigma surrounding walking as a choice for exercise is everywhere, but it can be overcome as I’ve recently discovered.   

Walking is simple, accessible, and packs a powerful punch when it comes to improving fitness and overall health.  There are endless variations, from an active recovery to a good cardio workout, that can be easily overlooked.  While it may not have the hype of running, biking, or swimming, it is an excellent choice for exercise.

Unfortunately, walking is not seen in the same light as other forms of exercise that are faster or more exciting.   Despite prevailing attitudes, walking is a powerful workout and studies show the more we do, the fitter we are.    Read on for some tips and tricks to unlock this powerful exercise as you confidently walk towards your fitness goals.   

The Many Benefits of Walking

The benefits of walking can’t be overstated.  Studies consistently show it is good for body and the more we do, the fitter we are.

Below are just some of the many reasons why walking is good for us.  Starting a walking routine at any age will benefit us, and the older we are, the more we need it.

  • Live longer:  The more you walk, the more you reduce the risk of all-cause mortality. See study here.
  • Improves brain function including memory: Aerobic activity has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus and improve brain circuits associated with memory.  See study here.
  • Promotes weight loss especially in the abdomen: While abs made be made in the kitchen, walking can help promote weight loss goals by curbing hunger, torching more fat in the abdomen, and keeping the weight you’ve already lost off.
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Builds stronger muscles and bones: Walking is a weight bearing exercise.  While it’s not the same as a weight training workout, walking regularly increases muscles mass and can improve bone density.
  • Improves mood
  • Reduce stress
  • Improves heart health and blood pressure
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Decreases lower back pain: While studies found that walking didn’t improve lower back pain more than exercises, it was shown to be as effective in most cases.  See study here.
  • It’s never too late to reap the benefits of walking.  Every step you take is a step towards a healthier you!

Walking and Self-Image

Self-image is a huge factor when it comes to exercise especially when exercising in public (aka: anywhere people can see you).  It can take a lot of courage to get out our front door just to go for a walk.

We live in a world that has conditioned us to constantly compare ourselves to an ideal that doesn’t exist.  On top of that no one usually gives a walker a thumbs up or says “great job” as they pass by.  Is it any wonder that our self-image and walking could use some help?

The good and bad news is, it’s all in our head.  This is bad news because it can affect anyone, regardless of weight, size, age, or gender.  This is also good news because it’s something we can control or learn to control starting right now.

Despite the environment we have been exposed to, we can re-train our thoughts and feeling about ourselves and walking.  This may take some time, but with practice and constant reminders our feelings and attitude can change.

 Focusing on your health and your fitness goals is key to overcoming any fear or embarrassment you may feel.  In addition, visualizing reaching your fitness goal and how you will feel can help you get out the door.  See my article here for more on setting fitness goals.

Listening to music or having a walking partner are good hacks for maintaining a positive attitude during your walking workout.  This will keep your focus, not on the runners, bikers, or people driving past you, but on you enjoying yourself. 

Walking My Way To Increased Fitness 

I just completed my first Ultra-Marathon (video here) and have never walked more in my life.  Walking has been key to my success, and I have a newfound appreciation and respect for this humble activity. 

I do attribute almost all of my success in accomplishing my fitness goals to walking.  The more I walk, the fitter and stronger I’ve become. 

It has kept me injury free so I could make it to the starting line of my event.  It has also kept me from burning out or giving up in frustration.  Basically, it has kept my training consistent even when I did not want to run.  See article here on walking for recovery.

I have never been a big fan of walking for exercise as I’m naturally slow and don’t particularly enjoy it.  While I still prefer to run, I find that walking A LOT makes my running sustainable

Like many, I would feel embarrassed when passed by other runners or bikers, but rarely does that happen anymore.  There are two main reasons for this that have to do with discipline and confidence.

If you want to accomplish a goal, you will need discipline to accomplish it.  For me, the secret to increasing my training load involved more walking.   I knew I had to leave my ego at the door to reach my goals.   

As I got tough with myself and incorporated more walking, I reached new peaks in my training.  This increased my confidence that the walking was important and integral to my success.

This created a cycle that has transformed by view of walking.  Walking led to increased fitness, which increased my confidence.  This in turn made me even more determined to stick with the plan that was working for me.

You need to experience the power of walking for yourself.   Not because the experts or science tell us how great walking is, but because you’ve proved it to yourself. 

How to Get the Most Out of Walking

Any amount of walking will benefit you and making it a part of your routine is best.  However, there are some things you can do to benefit more fully from your walks.

Increasing the time you spend walking and the speed you walk will give you a bigger bang for your buck.  Experts strongly recommend 30 minutes a day and the faster you walk, the better.

You can get an aerobic workout walking, but you may need to work at it.  Some naturally walk at a faster pace, but for others it can be a struggle (I’m one of those people).   

Some tips for walking briskly include listening to upbeat music and walking someone who walks faster.  You can also use a heart rate monitor to make sure you are in an aerobic zone.  See my calculator here for more on heart rate training.

Counting steps is also a great way of tracking your progress.  Most smart watches and even a cell phone can be used for tracking steps.  Tracking your fitness routine and seeing progress is a great motivator.

Key Takeaways

Walking is a powerful workout that has amazing benefits and can help you meet your fitness goals.  While walking may have gotten a bad rap and our own attitude may be affected, we can overcome the stigma. 

Walking is easy, accessible, and customizable, but only if we take advantage of this powerful workout.  Make a plan, set a goal, and experience how walking can make you happier and healthier.

Recent Posts