The Underrated Exercise Everyone Should Be Doing
If you workout 30-60 minutes a day but have a desk job like a large percentage of Americans, you aren't considered 'active'. Not even by a long shot.
In fact, you may even be negating all your hard work in the gym by working in a desk job.
But working out more (intensity and frequency) is not always the answer (hello high cortisol and lowered metabolic capacity).
So what gives? What can you do to be more 'active' in your daily life?
That's right - walk. Walking is one of the best low-impact ways to increase activity throughout the day (among MANY other benefits.)
But wait, I workout....How am i not active?
Over the last 50 years, our lifestyles have changed as technology has been on the rise. In the workplace, we now do most everything on a computer, phone or technology based systems that require sitting throughout the day. By contrast, 50 years ago, most jobs were physically demanding in fields such as manufacturing and agriculture.
People actually had to walk from desk to desk and building to building to communicate and do the actual work.
The amount of people who commute to work via car has increased dramatically over the years with the rise of urban sprawl and the long distances to work. Walking or biking to work or to public transportation, which yields more active minutes throughout the day, is also on the decline.
Outside of work, adults and children are just as sedentary, replacing outdoor play and activity with Netflix shows, social-media perusing, online gaming and overall too much 'recreational' screen time.
What this adds up to is a LOT of sedentary hours. Americans are sitting an average of 13 hours including:
'Recreational' computer/tablet/smartphone time
Yes, exercise is GREAT and should be part of your daily routine. However, 30-60 minutes of daily exercise coupled with 13+ hours of sedentary lifestyle is not considered active nor does it give you the mental, physical and emotional benefits that truly being 'active' can.
But adding in more intense, hardcore workouts doesn't have to be the answer. It can be as simple as walking more throughout your day.
The Benefits of walking Americans are far behind on the number of 'recommended steps' per day with a 5,117 on average. 10,000 steps a day (approx. five miles) are recommended based on the CDC's recommendations to get 150 active minutes in per day. Depending on your goals, these numbers may vary, but regardless - an average of only half the recommended steps per day shows signs of a sedentary lifestyle.
A sedentary lifestyle can do many things like: compromise metabolic health, increase blood pressure, high blood sugar, cause muscular imbalances, pain, degenerative spinal disorders and much more.
As stated before, walking is one of the best low-impact ways to exercise and the easiest way to become less sedentary.
Here are just a few of the benefits of walking daily:
Increase heart rate and improve cardiovascular health
Mobilize fat and reduce body composition
Low impact way to burn calories
Easiest and inexpensive ways to exercise - all you need is a pair of tennis shoes
Stress Reducing (getting outdoors, fresh air and low-impact exercise can improve stress!)
How you can walk more on a daily basis
You don't have to be a mall power-walker from the 80's to enjoy the benefits of walking. Simply adding in some spurts throughout the day or a couple of long walks in AM/PM can do the trick!
I personally love starting my day with some bulletproof coffee and a 30-45 minute walk with one of my pups to get my blood flowing, get about half my daily steps in, prepare me mentally for my work day and help to increase my cardiovascular and overall health. My morning walks are truly rejuvenating!
Take a brisk morning, afternoon or evening walk (or all 3) Bring a pup or the family!
Make an after dinner walk a family tradition
Walk 5-10 minutes after each meal to help digestion and increase movement!
Take work calls on a stroll if you don't need to be on camera or take notes
Bike or walk to work or the train station if able (BONUS: More productive time on public transport than driving!)
Set a 'movement alarm' for every 60 minutes and get up and move! Do a flight of stairs, lap your office floor, take an outdoor stroll, do a few pushups or squats - just move!
Park far away on errands and walk to your destination
Meet friends for a 'walking coffee' instead of at a coffee shop
Research weekend hikes and trails to try
Listen to podcasts on the move rather than seated
Be sure to change up your route frequently and find new places to explore to keep you motivated. Aim to hit 10,000+ steps a day or shoot for 30-60 min of walking/household activities on top of your workouts. Your body, mind and soul will thank you!
Get up and WALK!