“A walk in nature, walks the soul back home.” - Mary Davis
Are you looking for a way to kick off 2021 feeling energized and revitalized? So many of us are on the hunt for the perfect workout - something that gives you a cardio boost without beating you up. But it is SO challenging during these times of studio and gym closures. Don’t worry - you don’t need a spin studio or HIIT class to get a sculpting, full body cardio-boosting workout. You don’t even need any special equipment. Just throw on your workout wear, grab your comfiest pair of sneakers, turn on your favorite song, audiobook or podcast, and go for a walk.
Walking might seem slow-paced and low energy compared to other cardio workouts that leave you dripping in sweat and gasping for breath. But the slower pace of walking is actually the power of it: it’s a low-impact workout that burns fat and tones the core, arms, and legs, without excessively straining your joints or impacting your posture. In my Taller, Slimmer, Younger Transformation Challenge, I recommend rebounding, which you know is my favorite way to fit cardio into my day. One of the many reasons I love rebounding is because it is the lowest-impact form of cardio in the world. But I always recommend walking as the ideal alternative. Walking is the perfect workout for anyone with knee, ankle or back pain, or for anyone who wants to get their body moving, and nourish their mind, body and soul.
A walk, especially in nature, can be extremely powerful and beneficial for the body in countless ways. Besides helping you achieve your fitness goals and burning calories, walking can improve cardiac health and circulation, and lessen risk of high blood pressure, brain tissue deterioration, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. Amazing, right? Who knew walking could be SUCH a wellness boost.
Walking is effective for burning fat and toning the body, but it can also elevate your energy, detox your body, and boost your mood. Walking - especially in nature - helps you release endorphins that boost your mood, and it can even inspire your creativity and enhance your memory. Haven’t you ever taken a walk to clear your head when you encountered a challenging situation, or life just felt overwhelming? It’s the best, right?
The bottom line is that walking is not just good for you physically but it can also be incredibly meditative. I love walking because it allows me to be outside, boost my immunity, deeply breathe in the fresh air while soaking up vitamin D from the sun and connecting with Mother Earth. I try to find patches of grass on my walks so I can go barefoot as much as possible, and truly connect to the Earth below me. You can find out more about Earthing in my “Why now is the time to Ground with Mother Earth” blog.
So, if you’re ready to get your body moving, connect to the Earth, and boost your wellness, let’s go for a walk! Here are 6 tips to make your walk truly beneficial for your fitness, your mind, and your soul:
1. Rise and Grind
To burn the most fat, go for your walk before breakfast! Your glycogen stores will be lower, so your body will use your stored fat much quicker. Coffee before is great!
2. Switch Up Your Speed
Don’t just walk at one pace for the full workout. Switch things up a little! You can start out slow, then speed things up a little to really get your heart rate pumping, then speed up in intervals to keep your body working. Brisk walking is amazing for the body - it helps burn internal belly fat, and is even better for preventing heart disease than running. According to The Sun, the NHS describes brisk walking as a pace of roughly 3 miles per hour. You don’t have to be speedy the whole time, but you do burn the most calories by increasing and decreasing your heart rate, so be sure to keep your body guessing.
3. Embrace the Ups and Downs
Find a neighborhood or a trail that has HILLS! Hill walking is amazing for burning calories without damaging muscle tissue, and it also helps you keep your booty perky! You don’t need to be walking only uphill, but make sure to mix it up with both flat ground AND hills.
4. Stretch It Out
I love to find curbs to walk on and balance, and I also try to stretch on park benches or steps I come across. Your neighborhood or hiking trail can be your gym, and just like any cardio workout, it is SO important to stretch out before and after.
5. Add Variety
Just like any other workout, it’s easy to fall in a rut. Try not to repeat the same routine every single day - keep your body energized and invigorated with different walking workouts. In one week, you can try a long distance walk with a slower speed one day, and the next a shorter, brisker walk with more hills. Just have fun with it, and as always, listen to your body.
6. Find a Walking Buddy
Walking therapy is a real thing especially these days, not only for accountability for your wellness goals, but also for mental health and conversation it is great to have a friend who you can take a walk and talk with. Talking to each other in person is now one of life’s most appreciated irreplaceable joys - even when we have to stay 6 feet apart from each other, which is relatively easy on a walk! The motivation, care and focus of having a walking buddy will help you stay on track and is a naturally great social distance activity to do together - and we are all looking for those in this current climate!
Now you’re all set to get outside, soak up the sun, break a little sweat, and nourish your body, mind and soul with a walk. I learned a lot about the amazing benefits of walking from these great articles from The Sun, NBC News, Very Well Fit, and CBS - so absolutely check those out if you would like to learn more about how you can boost your wellness with walking. If you are looking for other ways to boost wellness through movement, then please take a look at my Aligned Life Studio which is FULL of mat workouts, rebounding exercises, foam rolling sequences, recipes, playlists, and even guided visualizations. Plus starting January 2021 I’ve included 3 walks into the guided weekly calendar!
You can try out the Aligned Life Studio with a free 7 day trial. Hope to see you there!