Walking – the easy way to get there
Complicated to Simple
Workouts, Boot Camps, CrossFit, High Intensity Training – today the road to fitness is over populated with choices that are expensive and mired in technology. Almost seeming to delight in confusing its target group and overcomplicating the landscape. With no disservice to Science, many of us know what works for fitness is simply adopting a common sense approach. Shorn of all the bells and whistles these goals seem far more attainable and sustainable. Fitness, has become an intricate discipline, with added steps to our routine, the complexities of calories and numerous apps to track activity, sleep, intake and much more. Food items are broken down, labels minutely scrutinized, the era of technology leaving its indelible moniker on the Fitness industry. As someone dared to question, are we better than the previous generation or are we over complicating things just to expand the market? And yet the need to be conscious of our health, given the precarious times we live in, is evident everywhere we turn. Let us examine how we can break this down and add it to our routines, without overwhelming ourselves.
The Start of the Journey
Embarking on this quest, the first realization that dawns on us is - Movement matters in any form. I have been known to gingerly make my way to the gym, working out on some of the machines. I love yoga and enjoy the sense of calm and balance that the guided sessions bring. Nonetheless, I always felt my fitness routine has some gaps, especially since I was always looking for excuses not to go to the gym!
As I mulled this over, I realized that the answer was not far to seek. I regularly took short breaks at work stepping away from my desk to take a brisk walk, coming back to my work space, recharged and feeling refreshed. It dawned on me, I had found my fitness routine! Walking outdoors became my fitness mantra which I could accommodate with my lifestyle. Having found my “aha” moment, I was delighted to find I was not alone.
Studies by Harvard Health show five surprising benefits of walking outdoors. It curbs cravings and the intake of a variety of sugary snacks. Another amazing health value is that walking reduces arthritis – related pain and in fact improves joint health, by lubricating and strengthening the muscles that support them. Walking is also known to boost immune strength and counteracts the effects of weight promoting genes. Getting out in the open, especially with summer upon us seems like a no brainer. Getting fresh air feels good, knowing that the brain uses three times as much oxygen for healthy neuron function as muscles do. Since the brain, is extremely sensitive to decreased oxygen levels, when we walk outside, the brisk exercise actually improves brain function. Closely linked with this is the fact that there is a significant increase in concentration, when spending time outdoors.
Walking outdoors soothes the soul, as one soaks in the sunlight, the scenery and the variations in the landscape. Walking alone, listening to music or a podcast, or with a friend, family member, or pet, can elevate the exercise from a chore to a relaxing experience. Except for a pair of sturdy walking shoes, this fitness regime needs very little else. Being in the presence of Nature instantly boosts Life satisfaction, no wonder it is a prescription for stress, anxiety and depression. The Japanese practice of “forest bathing” is fast becoming a cult here and many folks are making it a regular ritual to spend time in a forest or wooded area.
Like baby steps, even small amounts of time spent outdoors will have positive effects on our health and sense of wellbeing, so let’s get walking and step outdoors. Join me in adding this simple routine to your weekly regime and share your stories in our communal quest towards Fitness.
We are stronger together