“You’re really going to walk ALL the way home??? But that takes forever!”
This was the worried response I used to get from people over and over again this past semester, when they would find out I was planning to walk home instead of taking the tram. In reality the walk only required about 50 minutes, but it still took a while to convince my friends that I was actually walking out of choice and kind of enjoyed it. It’s not every day back home in the USA that you get to walk through a park that looks like this.
Since February walking has served as the cardio component of my fitness program. Some people run, others bike or swim, but I’m a walker – for the time being at least. On an average week I’ll go on 4-5 casual walks for about an hour each. In comparison to the athletic conditioning standard that is HIIT Training – high intensity interval training – walking for an hour seems rather inconsequential. But if you had told me 8 months ago that by late summer I’d be comfortably switching from my standard medium-sized shirts to wearing a size small and largely due to walking, I probably would have scoffed.
A gem of an option
It really is, and it’s often overlooked. But the way I see it, there are two ways to look at walking:
- Inefficient and time consuming or
- From a long-term perspective, a very effective approach to weight loss/management that is safe and accessible to almost anyone
For an elderly person or your average Joe it is a great way to stay mobile and avoid gaining extra weight. For someone who is dangerously overweight and wants to make a change, walking provides an effective solution that has both low impact and low intensity aspects, which will protect them from injury while getting started. In the bodybuilding community walking is a favoured form of cardio because it allows a bodybuilder to drop their body fat percentage significantly in preparation for a competition without sacrificing muscle mass. The list of benefits that come from walking goes on and on. T-Nation has a pretty good comprehensive article covering many of the benefits.
It’s easy to incorporate into daily life
That’s what gets me the most about walking. You can get all the benefits from it while incorporating it into your daily life. You can get a “workout” without feeling like you are.
Go with friends, go with family; nothing is painful when you’re with people whose company you enjoy. If the grocery store is 7 blocks away, then save the gas money and take a stroll. When visiting a new city, explore it on foot and see what you discover. If you need some time by yourself to think undisturbed, then simply plug in your earbuds, press play on a groovy playlist and just go. If you have access to a treadmill, there is always the option of walking while watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones. And if you have a dog . . . well, in that case you don’t really have a choice! The possibilities here are endless.This of course is all just food for thought.
Maybe walking is for you, maybe not. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and in the end what matters most is figuring out what options you enjoy and can stay consistent with. But if you’ve never seriously considered walking before, I invite you to try it and see if it works for you.
Which form of cardio do you tend to choose and why?