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Those shoes were made for walking
We don’t walk enough. It should be part of everyday life, but it’s not. If you read my column regularly, you know that I’m a proponent of strength training and that I tend to be a bit leery about traditional cardio. You might think that it’s strange that I’m writing about the benefits of walking.
Experts recommend 10,000 steps per day. Research indicates that very few North Americans even come close, with the average being about half of that. I suspect that the number is even less in a city like Winnipeg, where the climate and public policy is not conducive to walking and outdoor physical culture in general. We live in a car town.
There is a multitude of health benefits attributed to walking. Studies have associated walking with longevity, lowered blood pressure and triclycerides, and improved cognition. Practically speaking, walking seems to make us feel happier and calmer. The beauty of walking is its simplicity. It is a basic, functional, primal movement. Humans are made to walk. It is our main means of locomotion. Walking outdoors has the added benefit of connection with nature and our environment. Walking can be a meditation in itself, reducing stress and improving wellbeing.
Implementing frequent walks appears to be the way to go. Consider making walking part of your daily routine. Go for a walk during your lunch break, or every night after dinner. Another option is to reinstitute walking as a regular mode of transportation in day-to-day life. Run errands on foot, walk to work, or park further away from your destination. Try out this 10-day experiment. Commit to walking a total of 15 minutes per day for the next 10 days and pay close attention to how you feel, your mood, your energy levels, your stress levels. No doubt you will feel better.
However, don’t expect any significant changes in fitness or body composition. While it can provide important health benefits, walking is not a true exercise program for the vast majority of the population.
For someone who is ill, stressed, deconditioned, or injured, walking is a great way to ease into physical activity, but in order to get true physical adaptation, we need to do more, we need push our limits a bit. Walking won’t do much to build strength or flexibility for the average person. So go for a walk, but think of it as just part of everyday life, think of it as being human. Then start planning your real workout.
Tanya Tetrault Vrga is owner and head trainer at CrossFit Winnipeg. Send questions to her at www.crossfitwinnipeg.com.
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