Are you a runner? I’m not - never have been. Honestly, if I’m running, something’s probably chasing me.
A few years ago, my awesome husband signed us both up for a Walk/Run group. Now, other than the fact that it was the middle of winter and the group met at 7:00 AM on Saturday mornings, this seemed like a great idea (note my sarcasm here). The program offered 3 groups: Runners, Walk/Runners, and the slow pokes…um, I mean the Walkers.
Our coach for the group was a competitive racewalker. I had no idea this was even a thing. But, she was quite impressive, having competed in (and won) many events at the age of 65. She was happy to tell anyone who listened why it was better to walk than run. I loved her!
I’m sharing 3 reasons some of us may prefer a slower approach to life, or at least fitness.
1. One activity, multiple health benefits
Hippocrates said, “Walking is man’s best medicine.” Turns out he may have been right and who are we to argue with the “father of medicine.” Plenty of studies show various health benefits of walking. Not only is it a great form of cardio exercise, but a daily 30-minute walk can also…
Get and keep your cholesterol levels in check (lowering the bad and raising the good).
Prevent and control high blood pressure, which reduces stroke risk by up to 27 percent.
Lower your blood sugar levels and overall risk for diabetes.
You can read many other benefits of walking every day in this Prevention article. Ladies, it’s even a proven way to fend off varicose veins as we age. Hello skirts and shorts!
2. Less prone to injury than running
Walking offers these great health benefits without the high risk of injuries that runners often experience. Knee problems, Achilles' tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and even stress fractures are all fairly common among our running friends. Yet, walkers are much less likely to experience similar complications or damage, even when going long distances.
Still, like runners, you need to have the proper footwear. It’s a good idea to visit a professional retailer that specializes in walking and running shoes (we like Run On in Dallas-Fort Worth). The specialists can evaluate you properly by watching you walk, viewing your gate, checking your arches, and looking to see whether you pronate or supinate (you can’t make this stuff up). I learned a lot when I went!
3. Good for creative juices and mental health
Patsy Cline crooned about “Walking After Midnight” and Friedrich Nietzsche said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” Steve Jobs must have agreed - he was well-known for conducting meetings while taking a walk.
Walking truly is a vehicle for many great ideas and passions. Dr. Michael Roizen, MD notes walking outdoors consistently for 90 days can boost blood flow to your brain by 15%. Plus, he says your self-esteem will get a boost from being out in the community or in nature.
I also love the idea of a gratitude walk. While you enjoy the sights and the exercise, take time to reflect on everything you have to be thankful for. When the weather is bad, treadmill walking can be a welcomed option (and some know how to make it fun, or should I say funky, check out this video!) Fun is good for the spirit and our creative juices!
Bottom line: walking offers a variety of benefits and is easier for most of us to maintain over the long haul. So whether you’re looking to improve physical health or create mental energy, getting started is the first step (see what I did there) to starting your walking program!
Are you a walker? How has it improved your life? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.