We all want to get fit. So much so that we make New Year's resolutions, try crazy diets, and overpay for gym memberships we never use.
Good news, there's an easy way to get fit and it's super simple–just walk more.
One of the easiest and most enjoyable types of exercise is walking. Here's why:
Most of us can do it: Once you have checked with your physician, most people can walk a little, once you start to regularly walk a little you will soon be able to walk a lot.
It's efficient: Walk the dog more often, or tie in your walk with running an errand. You will soon find walking to the store or to pick up the children from school just becomes part of your day.
It's enjoyable: How often do you stop to smell a flower or spot a rabbit in a field? Walking the dog is one of the world's greatest pleasures and walking with your loved ones can build a better relationship.
You find new places: I have lost count of the interesting sights and places we have found going for a long walk. One favorite spot has given us a deserted beach that no one ever visits. Why? Because it takes an hour to walk to and there is no other access. We have the place to ourselves, take a flask of coffee, a homemade vegan muffin or two and we skinny dip.
It's low impact: Once you've built up your stamina and muscles to extend your walking, you can pick up the pace. Soon a two hour walk will seem easy. Do that two or three times a week and you are on your way to being fit.
It burns calories: How many depends on your weight, age, and gender. Here's a calculator that can help you figure out just how many calories you will burn on a walk.
It doesn’t cost anything: Walking is FIRE approved. It's free–apart from a good pair of shoes. Personally I just use my running shoes. They feel comfy running so they will feel comfy walking. I don’t buy the latest pair of walking boots, or specific walking sneakers. Also, I don’t buy the latest version of the shoe I like. I run in ASICS Gel Kayano, so I look for offers on the previous version of that shoe, the newer evolution is always more expensive.
It comes naturally: There is some research on walking and its impact on the development of the human race. Walking long distances is actually in our genes, our ancestors would have walked long distances in search of food. Fast high impact exercise (your average gym session) would have been very risky for our ancestors. Sprinting and leaping across gorges for that antelope, when there is a low chance of actually catching it, would mean less chance of survival. Much better to take a stroll to that riverbed four hours away to gather up the mussels you know are there each and every time. It makes sense to me.
It will get you out the door: This is the biggest hurdle of any fitness change, you just need to get out the door. The joy of walking is that it is easy to do, no equipment, or getting packed, no drive to the gym. Too tired, just go for a short walk? Just slip on your shoes and go round the block. It’s raining? Grab your umbrella and away you go. Once you're out the door you're fine, so find something that makes that first step easier.
It's sustainable: Even now when I can knock out a quick 10 km run without any issue, I still walk. It is a good supplement for other exercise and helps me unwind from other parts of my life. Is it the very best fitness use of my time? Probably not, I could gym more, run more, get on the bike more. But it is easy, sustainable, and cheap.
Everyone spends their time and money looking for the easiest way to lose weight. But nothing good in life is easy, you have to put the work in. Work is work, sub optimal is better than nothing. So, if you can’t run, go for a walk to start with. Can’t swim, go for a walk while you're learning. Can’t lift weights, build up your general cardiovascular fitness with a walk while you start your stretching program.
Before you know it, you'll be walking everywhere, your body and your dog (if you have one) will thank you.