Oh, the simple walk!

DSC_8417I’ve been slowing down on this blog, I know. A short explanation: I’m in a master’s program (full-time). It’s a lot of work and I’m regularly and routinely fairly tired. By the end of the day, having read articles on the computer, I simply don’t want to stare at the screen any longer nor do I feel that I have much more to discuss nor do I have the mental capacities to write up a gendered analysis of an issue that’s been brought to my attention. I haven’t even been on many fun adventures lately because of the time commitment! And it’s precisely that time commitment that I wanted to share with you, in the form of the simple walk. It’s been my go-to lately. Combined with the changing seasons (good-bye summer, hello fall!) and it’s a good time to start a new routine.

I’ve talked about the simple walk before, exalting the myriad of health benefits, and I shall do it again. The walk is vastly under-utilized and over-looked in most of our lives. Why? It’s not hard and requires so little equipment. You can even partake in it during the working day, moderating yourself and not sweating, thereby reducing the logistics involved in needing to shower and change and such. In a British Journal of Sports Medicine Study (2015), a meta-analysis (super big study) concluded that “walking groups are effective and safe with good adherence and wide-ranging health benefits. They could be a promising intervention as an adjunct to other healthcare or as a proactive health-promoting activity.” They looked at all the standard physiological, psychological, and other well-being measures and found that there were statistically significant differences (a.k.a. truly and highly measurable) in:

  • Reduced blood pressures
  • Lowered heart rates
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced cholesterol
  • Improved VO2
  • Reduced depression scores

The simple walk! It’s incredible – put comfortable shoes on. Head outdoors. Put one foot in front of the other. Return relaxed, refreshed, and energized.

Between basic fatigue (exaggerated by lupus and brain fog symptoms) and general time availability, getting out for a 2 hour bike ride or hike – particularly during the work week – is proving difficult. The extended exercise is starting to make me feel more tired, not less, and with our days growing noticeably shorter, the “after work” ride is also becoming more difficult to get in. With the falls rains starting, even just the desire to be out hiking or biking in the cold, wet weather is zapping my desire. So I started to switch up my routine and insert 10-20 min walks throughout the day.

It gets me off the chair, away from the computer, and outside. In return, my body thanks me for moving around just a little bit; I give my eyes get a break; the likelihood of the computer headache diminishes; my energy becomes restored; I’m able to problem-solve any issues I’m having with a reading. It may be a quick walk up to the Post Office or grocery store if I’m really feeling short on time or maybe a slightly longer jaunt around the neighbourhood, it doesn’t matter. I sneak in 3-4 of these every day and all of a sudden, I’ve often tallied up over an hour of walk breaks during my day.

  1. I start with a 20 min walk in the morning. (This has been a habit for years as we get our dog out. It starts our day out relaxed and in a positive frame of mind.)
  2. Sometime mid-morning, I sneak out for 10-15 mins.
  3. Lunch time/just after lunch, I’ll get in another 15 mins.
  4. Generally, late afternoon or after woking hours I’ll get another 20 mins in.

Don’t make it complicated, don’t overthink this. Just start walking. For as much or as long as it works for you – this isn’t about being “epic” or “hardcore”, it’s about finding some balance in your life. Embrace the micro-adventure.

Raining? Grab the rain coat. Chilly? I’ll put on a toque. This is the perfect time to start up a new habit and have it sustain you through the coming months, ensuring you get the fresh air your body absolutely craves.

But I know you, awesome reader. You don’t balk at a little bit of rain or cooler temperatures, right?

See you outside!

 

 

 

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