Welcome to the 10th habit in the #GiveMe30HabitProject!!
See this post for all the details and backstory!
This month’s habit is walking!
Walking has so many benefits for those of every fitness level, but yet it is one of the most underrated forms of physical activity out there, IMO anyway.
When I am working with clients who want to lose body fat and maintain a lean physique, I always have two recommendations—assuming activity is safe of course! The biggest dial mover (besides nutrition) is of course strength training, but leisure walking is the best bud of resistance training. It is the thing that most anyone can start if they aren’t already exercising. We hear a lot about the goal of getting 10,000 steps a day and this is for good reason. Most of us don’t move nearly enough. We sit in our cars. For most of us, our jobs involve several hours of sitting. Then we come home and sit and relax in the evening. For someone who is trying to improve their body composition, the lack of NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is a major reason why they may be struggling with weight. Our bodies use more energy than you think when we are moving around doing things other than movement for formal exercise. Walking is a great way to increase this form of energy use by the body. Meaning in short, you will burn more calories.
While the body comp benefits are great, most people also do not recognize how much of an impact on their overall health it can have above and beyond weight loss.
Some people don’t think of walking when they think of exercise, but it does count toward the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity recommended by the CDC (if performed at a brisk pace). This article from the CDC gives a detailed breakdown of exercise recommendations by type of activity, duration, and frequency depending on age and desired health benefits.
While it may not be an endurance or resistance training form of activity, it is has SO MANY other benefits. When I am talking to my patients about their health and disease prevention, it is the first thing I recommend (beyond the routine screenings for their age/demographics/personal history).
- It is safe for almost everyone in the general population.
- It doesn’t require any special equipment.
- It can be done almost anywhere.
- It doesn’t put extra stress on joints.
- It can help with constipation.
- It helps with lowering stress hormone levels.
- It helps to boost mood and well being.
- It improves insulin sensitivity (this helps regulate blood sugar control).
- It can help lower blood pressure.
- It helps with controlling appetite and lowers cravings.
- It helps increase energy levels.
- It is a great way to spend time engaging in conversation with loved ones (we all need less screen time and more face-to-face engagement).
- It helps improve sleep quality.
- It has been linked to cancer prevention.
- It helps lower inflammation.
- It improves memory.
- It can help to lower bad cholesterol/triglyceride levels and raise good cholesterol levels.
- It helps preserve bone density and muscle mass, which becomes more important as we age.
- It improves problem solving ability.
- It stimulates creative thinking.
- It gets us outdoors and in nature (depending on where you are able to walk).
- The list goes on…this is by no means exhaustive.
My recommendation for most people is to include 20-60 minute leisure walks (i.e. a comfortable, but brisk pace—it does not need to be power walking) as frequently as possible (5 or more days per week). This can be done in addition to any other training program you may currently participate in, and frequency will depend on how much time you have available. The benefits are there even if you do smaller chunks of time walking too ( i.e. 10-15 minutes, 2-3 x a day to total the 20-60 minutes). Again see this article for the breakdown on all of the specific recommendations for physical activity.
In case you were wondering why I often use the hashtag #MyTxIs150, I get it from the CDC recommendation for a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity weekly. ‘Tx’ in medical lingo stands for therapy or treatment. So, the idea behind the hashtag is that my therapy/treatment (and my recommendation for others) for so many things (whether mental or physical) is exercise ❤
OK, so now that you have an idea of what the habit looks in practice and the benefits of practicing it, it’s your turn! You don’t have to do every single one of these, but these are some ideas for you to implement.
For the next 30 days:
- Set a goal to walk for a certain number of minutes on certain days each week.
- Practical Tips: Start with what is realistic and manageable. Do not try to start with your ultimate goal right away, but scale it back so that you can consistently implement your new habit of walking.
- Plan out a set of locations where you can walk depending on your schedule and/or the weather.
- Practical tips: Make sure to include creative things like walking inside your home when it’s raining if there is a loop within your house or getting to work a few minutes early in order to walk around the parking lot.
- Try to sneak in extra steps where you can.
- Practical tips: Park farther away from stores in the parking lot, hand-deliver things within your office or talk face-to-face instead of via phone, break you’re walking down into smaller chunks of time… Every little bit adds up! Read this post for more tips!
- Ask a friend or your spouse to join you in this habit.
- Practical tips: plan to take walks together when possible. Check in with one another and share your struggles so that you can help each other troubleshoot ways to overcome them if you don’t get to walk together.
- Make a mental note of how you feel after the habit and any improvements you notice throughout your day after you have practiced this habit for several days.
- Practical tips: Call these benefits to mind whenever you don’t feel like following through on your habit.
- Bonus: Invest in a step counter like a Fitbit (I have a Charge 2) that will help you track your progress and reach your goals.
Don’t forget to share this project with others! You can share the link to this blog post as a status/post on Facebook. Feel free to save and use the image from this post, or use the ones I’ll have on my Instagram page. Whatever other means you have to get more involvement will make this project more fruitful! Tweet, email, pin on Pinterest, etc.
Also, I encourage you to keep track of your journey and use the hashtag #GiveMe30HabitProject on social media. Please tag me in your habit progress and insights! I’ll also be glad to troubleshoot sticking points. I’m Kaci M Byrd Cheeseman on Facebook and @CheeseGirlPA on Instagram.
If you want to check in daily for accountability, you can post either a photo and/or status and use #GiveMe30HabitProject #Day1, #GiveMe30HabitProject #Day2, so on and so forth. I’d love to see how it goes and repost—only if you give me permission, of course! I’ll be searching the hashtag to see who is joining in.
Remember: What is it you want to achieve? Who do you want to become? How do you want to serve others? You may not know how to get there, or even how to get started. I just ask that you trust me and help spread the message to others so they can become involved. Keep showing up, and together we will get you there, one 30 day habit at a time!
Are you ready? Let’s get growing!!
1/ What something you already do as part of your morning routine that serves you well?
2/ What is something you think you would like to add?
P.S. If you are interested in working on a specific habit and need someone to help you troubleshoot, keep you motivated, and hold you accountable, I offer coaching a variety of ways, which you can learn more about here.
My specialty is habit change and my approach is to work on mindset alongside the habit, so that it is healthy and sustainable, and this is best done via 1:1 Coaching which you can learn about here. Whether it involves your health, finances, nutrition, exercise, relationships, or personal growth, habits are the key to success. We are the outcome of what we repeatedly do. Without addressing that, there can be no change. Learn more here!