Health Benefits of Walking? Yes. The forgotten art of walking in our busy desk jobs. And with a good side effect of improving physical and mental health. Walking does not require special equipment. Put on your shoes, weather-appropriate clothes, and off you go. You cannot get it wrong. You have been walking a long time!
What I learned from walking Over 1000 Miles in a Year?
Turns out, In the School Year 2018-2019 I walked between 2-3 miles every weekday and even more hiking and traveling during the weekends and holidays. I had been eating well, had time to work out as well as hiking, and traveling as much as I could already. I had no special challenge or motivation to walk 1000 miles or run, or however goal setters do their thing.
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Why I wanted to do “something”?
Well. I did not. Apparently, it just so happened that I walked that much. This post is a retrospective. I was looking back at my Apple Health data while cleaning up an old iCloud backup and Apparently, I may have walked a total of 1000 miles in the school year of 2018-2019, and possibly continued the trend until the lockdown started in March 2020.
How exactly did I make it happen, then?
I did not set a goal that I will start walking every day. I am sure If I had set one, I would have not stuck to it. And then blamed myself for failing, as humans do. Turns out, I was told by my chiropractor to wear this brace and walk at least 20 minutes every day in order to manage my chronic back pain. My son’s school is exactly 15 minutes of a leisurely walk away from home. And we are also in the walk zone for school. Hence it was a no-brainer. I was getting over an hour of walking every single school day. 30 minutes for the drop off in the morning, and 30 minute in the afternoon for the pickup.
My walking routine on school days
I would put on my walking brace in the morning, drop off the kids and walk back home. Repeat in the evening, for pick up from school. Our walk to and from school was our own “Mommy and Me time”. We chatted about the mundane and important things in life without phone screens or distractions. We learned mnemonics, elements of the periodic table, multiplication and division flashcards, and planned movies nights, pizza nights, or what sports to learn next season. We talked about such esoteric things as God, The Power of Belief, Happiness of the Pursuit, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
I can perhaps write a whole entire book about our walks to school! May be I should.
And as my Chiropractor had promised, walking in the brace indeed helped manage the back pain better. Within a few weeks of walking, the back pain was a thing of the past.
What I learned about habit formation and achievement?
Everyone knows the hardest step is the starter Step. Get your first step out the door. If you are trying to build a routine for walking every day, Just take the starter step.
Your habit recipe idea #1.
After I eat dinner, I will put on my walking shoes. And then do a high 5! To celebrate that you Indeed, put on your walking shoes instead of slouching in front of TV. It is entirely up to you, if you want to take off the shoes and go back to watching TV now, or you might as well go for a walk, since you have the shoes on!
Your habit recipe idea #2.
Another recipe could be.
After turning off my work computer for the day, I will walk to the mailbox. (Don’t forget the celebration, when you do the habit.). Perhaps walk a little more, around the block or walk back home from the mailbox. It is entirely up to you.
Bonus points: If you have not read the tiny habits book yet, you should get it here.
Now with exercise and working out, one might feel awkward – about how good your form is, how you look, or if those gym clothes look good over your big computer belly.
However, with walking, you have no excuses. You can simply go out for a walk. Or Walk around the home.
Beside you do not have to pay for a membership to walk.
What else did I learn from my walking habit?
I found that having a set route and routine – going to and from school at the designated drop-off and pick-up times is what helped me accomplish this feat, that I had not even set for myself. I exactly knew how long it takes, how far I will be walking and there was no friction to dampen my willingness to go out for the walk to school.
It never felt like an exercise or anything “extra” I had to do. It was routine!
These are some of the other places I walked around when school was out.
The point of the story is……
If you are trying to start walking 1. Take the first step. 2. Walk to the mailbox. 3. Find a set route and routine 4. Find new places to explore – waterfalls, creeks, wildlife, and seashells to discover.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this. It’s up to you. It could be hiking a trail. It could be walking to the store, or it could be running a half marathon.
Alright. Alright. Much Ado About Walking. I am sure no one needs any more Convincing.
Conclusion: What exactly are the health benefits of walking?
I discovered today that I accidentally walked 1000 miles one school year. And that triggered this post.
Personally that year I managed my back pain. It went down from a 7/10 to 0/10 within the weeks that I started my daily walks to school.
My weight hovered around 120-126 lbs. Since March 2020 when the lockdown began and schools were out, I did gain weight and I weigh between 130-135 lbs. I am 5′ 4” and I am probably more OK at 126Lbs than at 135!
Walking was my me-time. Or Mommy-and-me time for me and my son. It was therapeutic since I almost never get time to sit and meditate longer than a few deep breaths.
Take a look at this study that shows that walking has many health benefits on fitness, resting blood pressure, blood pressure control, weight loss, preventing depression and cardiovascular diseases.
Jerry Seinfeld Experiment: Don’t break the chain. Post #53.