You don’t need to spend hours in the gym, doing high intensity workout every day just to have a fit, healthy body. Something as easy and simple as walking can have a profound influence on your health and well being.
I also want you to know that I am not here today to talk about some “new age” walking movement or give you some revolutionary and groundbreaking ideas. No, people were aware of these benefits of walking centuries before you and I were even born.
Ancient civilizations and learned men often preached the benefits of exercise, walking and movement in general. The importance of physical fitness in ancient Greece, for example, is well summarized in their saying “exercise for the body and music for the soul.”
But, in the recent years it looks like we have forgotten these benefits and replaced them with some poor habits, such as lying on the couch and watching TV, spending hours in front of the computer screen or simply disregarding our body`s natural desire – to move!
Today, my goal is to try and bring back exercise into your life (if you`ve forgotten about) and I plan to do so by talking about the benefits of this decision.
Walking In The Morning
The question most people often ask is “What should be the optimal intensity of my morning workout routine?” Well, the intensity depends on what are you trying to achieve and if you are exercising on an empty stomach.
If you want to use walking to jumpstart your metabolism, you need around 30 minutes of low intensity workout – walking. Another thing you need to keep in mind is that you should eat only after you are done with your morning walk.
If you do things in this particular order (get up, walk, eat) you are going to experience the benefits of weight loss because your body has less glycogen reserve (which is used to fuel the exercise) and after these reserves are spent, your body will start to use fat to fuel your exercise.
And if you eat and then exercise, you will refuel the glycogen reserve and it will be much harder for your body to burn through it and start burning fat.
You also need to keep yourself hydrated, so it is advised to drink one or two glasses of water prior and after the exercise. I know that it might be difficult and sometimes it will feel as though you are forcing yourself to drink it since you are not thirsty, but know that your body needs it.
If you adopt this habit, you will:
- Boost your mood. You will feel so much better because you are doing something for your body first thing in the morning and it can also boost your self-esteem
- Strengthen your heart
- Strengthen and tone your muscles
- Increase endurance and flexibility of the joints and tendons
Should You Walk After Meals?
The short answer is yes. You can and you should walk after a meal, especially in the evening but you don’t need to walk for full 30 minutes. It is recommended that you walk for about 15 minutes.
According to the research done at Old Dominion University (http://www.odu.edu/), people who engage in these short, after-meal walks will lower their blood sugar and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
30 Minutes Or 3 Miles?
The truth is you really should walk as long as it feels comfortable. The duration of the walk should depend on your physical condition. If you`ve injured your leg, are suffering from joint stiffness or are obese, no one can force you to walk for full 30 minutes as it may cause more damage than good.
If you, for any reason, cannot complete a full 30 minute walk, try to slowly build up to it by taking a few shorter walks through the day. It is important that you don’t get stressed out, just take your time and try to enjoy and relax as much as you can while walking – make it an enjoyable experience.
There is no specific walking technique I can or even should recommend, but I can share with you a few tips that can help you with your “walking form.” Those are:
- Keep your head up and chin parallel to the ground
- Look forward, not at the ground
- Straighten your spine and mind your posture
- Level your shoulders while swinging your arms naturally
- Tighten your abdomen muscles slightly
- When stepping, make sure your heel touches the ground first, then your toes