The Simple Act of Walking: Take A Step In The Right Direction

on June 15, 2018

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”

-John Muir

Throughout my career, I have never really been one to make “steps per day” recommendations. I’ve always thought that it wasn’t specific enough and have always fallen back on the American College of Sports Medicine guideline that 150 minutes of exercise per week, for people without limitations, is key. I have always thought that exercise/activity should be more specific and periodized. But recently, I went on a trip that involved a lot of walking on city streets and it got me thinking about the simple act of walking.

We have all been told that we need to get our recommended 10,000 steps in per day. Well, on average, statistics show that Americans only get about 4,774 steps per day. At first, that seems like a pretty paltry number, but then again… if I were to skip my daily run, if something “came up”, there is no way that I’d achieve even 5,000 steps per day.

We all know the benefits of walking:

  • Helps maintain healthy body weight
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Helps build and maintain bone mass
  • Helps regulate blood sugars
  • Helps manage stress
  • Plus, many more

I’m not writing this piece to tout these benefits. I’m writing this piece to challenge everyone to look at their day and look at some of the unproductive time in it. This includes: watching tv, social media, video games, eating junk food, internet surfing, etc. Try replacing these activities with a walk.

The number one reason we hear for not exercising is time. I completely understand that we all have busy lives.  If we were to illustrate the happenings of our days on a pie chart, 100% of every day would be full—we would have filled up every moment of every day we have been alive. But I also know from experience that there are a lot of things that creep into our lives that are unproductive. Sometimes replacing these unproductive times with exercise can be too big of an adjustment to manage. Heck, if you were to exercise instead of watching TV, you still must shower after you get done and it will take up even more of your precious time. But if you go outside and go for a short walk, the benefits will amaze you and it won’t feel so daunting.

My challenge for you is simple. For the next month, put down your cellphone, shut off the television, set the junk food aside, and go outside for a walk. If you still want to do those things after the walk, I’m not telling you that you should eliminate them all together, just displace some of them with a simple walk. If you have a significant other, imagine how they will react when you ask them to go for a walk. Just think about how happy the dog will be to come along. I hope you accept my challenge… let me know how it goes.

-Ethan Opdahl, Fitness Health Coach

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