By Blake and Gwen Beckcom | Fitness Together
Often when conversing with someone, the small talk generally leads to “What do you do for a living?” I always find that to be an interesting topic due to the myriad and variety of occupations and careers that abound in our society and I am generally all ears.
When it comes time for me to end questioning and begin clarifying what we do as fitness professionals, invariably one of the questions that comes up is, “Are you exercising?”
Nine out of 10 times the answer is, “Well, I walk.”
Now let’s think this through. As a form of exercise, walking is better than doing nothing, but how long have you known how to walk?
That’s right. You learned that skill back when you were a wee lad or lassie at the ripe old age of about 2. Walking feels effortless and is thoughtless in that you look to where you want to walk and off you walk with ease.
Perhaps not at 2 years of age, but as you perfected the movement, you mastered it and no longer require conscious thought to execute steps. So when folks say to fitness pros: “I walk,” we have to then dig in to the “how.”
If you are on a leisurely pace, talk-ably filling in a walking partner or getting filled in on the latest gossip, your walking pace is too slow to give you any real aerobic benefit. But, still better than sitting on the couch. If you can talk, you are not moving fast enough.
If you are walking solo with your dog(s) and they tend to smell everything and cannot stay on task, chances are you are walking too slowly to have an aerobic impact, but still this is better than doing nothing. We have four little Chihuahuas that are a handful, but amazingly their little legs, courageous spirits, and bossy and demanding personalities have them out front towing the line as to who will lead our pack and who will follow. Hence at the end of our dog walks, we are sweaty and a tad out of breath; a much higher benefit to the “I walk” scenario. I feel the need … for speed.
Look at it like this. Let’s say you are heading to a meeting at work and let’s say 300 people will be there. Let’s also say if you are late to the meeting, you have to stand up at the podium and sing for the group, as penance for being late. How fast would you walk to avoid that? Some of you may be able to sing and that’s no big deal, but for the rest of us, we would flat out run to avoid this.
The key is your walk pace. Walk as if you are late to a meeting and when you open the door to the meeting all eyes will divert to your entranced to that meeting … LATE! Now you are walking with pace, purpose and intention, and you will have far better results health-wise, than you will just “walking.”
It has been said that those that work out to their own tune — that is, ear buds and personal music choice — have greater workout intensity and greater focus. I can say that from my personal experience, this is hands-down the truth. Pop in your ear buds and jam to your favorites, picking up your walk pace to make the time you are investing more meaningful.
Choose different routes: go up hill, downhill, walk a piece of it backwards, skip, bring the dog, leave the dog, and always be “late to a meeting” in thought. Make your walking varietal so it won’t get boring and or your body unable to adapt to it.
You have to keep your body guessing to make it adapt to improvement. “I walk” generally won’t get it … but again, “I walk” is better than doing nothing.
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