You want to be fit and healthy right? Who doesn’t? You also probably don’t want to work too hard for it or don’t have the time or money.
Well, here’s a quick fix for you – you can still maintain a good level of health just by doing one simple thing, regularly – walking. Or walking more to be precise.
Why you should walk as much as you can
Ever seen a fat animal in the wild? (..that is not fat genetically?) No. Only the ones that live with humans seem to be getting fatter and fatter. Why is that I wonder?
Why are wild animals always fit?
You see lions lying around all day, yet they look like Spartans. Any animal you look at, it’s slim, muscular and fit. Let’s think about the reasons… what do they do the most?
well ok, maybe not *all* of them…
- they don’t go to the gym
- they don’t have a fitness regime
- they… walk most of the time. They walk to get food. They walk to get water. They walk to change the environment. They walk to have sex.
They might run for life occasionally, but that’s very infrequent. Or they sprint to catch food, which is a quick burst over in minutes.
now that’s a fairly fit individual, wouldn’t you agree?
There are other factors, like intermittent fasting (which is by itself another great thing you can do) for carnivores – they catch something, eat it, then don’t eat for sometimes days. Herbivores eat constantly, but that’s a whole different digestive system. Many animals, many ways they eat, but the vast majority share the same thing – they are always doing some kind of movement.
And the same animals don’t suffer from:
- cardiovascular diseases
- and many other “civilisation diseases” – ever wonder why they’re called that?
In short – you’ll do well if you copy some of the things animals do, like walking and generally moving more.
It is a simple movement that doesn’t require any special conditions. Animals don’t run or do heavy exercise all day. But they do walk around and do simple movements a lot of the time. Guess what adds up more – heavy workout only a few times a week, or small movement here and there, but several times a day? You move a mountain by carrying small stones.
The most senseless, well actually stupid thing I see people do is driving in their car, then taking a lift or an escalator to a paid gym so they can run, jog or walk on a treadmill. They avoid the FREE movement they can get so that they can PAY for artificial and forced movement. The pinnacle of evolution right there.
There are circumstances that justify going to the gym of course – bodybuilding, exercising specific muscle groups or very bad weather. Aside from that, you’ll get as much benefit – for free – just by taking an energising 1-hour walk outside.
Ok now – how to walk and move more?
Start by walking everywhere, as much as you can:
- If it’s within an hour on foot, walk there. Where you previously took public transport, walk
- Instead of watching Netflix for 4 hours at night, walk for one hour and do some thinking, then enjoy some good series
- Carry shopping bags up the stairs instead of taking the lift. Oh, and this applies without the bags too! Each time you run up the stairs, you raise your heartbeat, get your blood pumping and do yourself a lot of good. For free!
- Don’t make things as easy as possible on you – some strain on your muscles is good – that’s exactly what animals do – they can’t take a lift up the tree, they have to climb there. They can’t order an antelope pizza, they have to catch it first. Every time you use some kind of machinery or tools to make something easier on you, try to think – is this helping me or actually hindering my health by removing exercise from my life?
This post is mostly about walking – if you are looking for more inspiration on how to move more and be able to do it long term, check our Exercise section. For tips on how to move without leaving your home (whilst you work), see 4 must-have tools in a healthy office and 3 ways to stay healthy in a home office.
Walking doesn’t have to have a purpose – you can just walk, without going anywhere.
Do you want to stay fit when you’re injured and can’t do your exercise routine? If the injury doesn’t prevent you from walking, perfect – walk at least an hour a day.
You know what they say – to get results, find the one thing that works for you and stick to it for a long period of time. Walking falls into the easy to do, free and low effort category, so this could be your one thing.
All that’s needed is finding 1 hour daily for a long walk. If you can’t do that, then you’re basically fucked – nothing else is simpler than just going out and walking. If you can’t bring yourself to do just that, you won’t bring yourself to do anything else that benefits your health at least to a similar extent.
Walking vs running?
Walking or running is good for you. I am not comparing the two. Just choosing the easiest alternative, as this post is about the easiest way to stay fit. Running keeps you even fitter, but it requires more effort. You get sweaty when running, so running to work or meetings adds more hassle, whilst you can walk anywhere without having to shower afterwards. Running in colder seasons isn’t that comfortable, but walking is just fine. You can dress lightly and combine it with a bit of cold exposure ;).
Of course, if you feel like running, then go for it, even better for you. But if you want the lowest bar to start with, go for a walk.
Further benefits of walking
Aside from the physical health benefits, walking is often a tool used to boost creativity and get a better perspective on things. A Stanford study found that creativity increased by 60% in people who went for a walk, compared to sedentary.
Oh, don’t forget to take a notepad and a pen with you – you might want to write those ideas down! (or just record them on your phone if you prefer technology…).
Sigmund Freud, Ludwig van Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Immanuel Kant – and many more walked as part of their daily routine – likely to get inspired and get some movement into their life.
Walk before you go to sleep and you will sleep better. Walk in the morning and you’ll be more productive. Walk after lunch, and you won’t feel so full.
” Going for a brisk daily walk won’t just trim you down, it will also keep you up less often at night. Exercise boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin”Dr. Karen Carlson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of Women’s Health Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital
And ultimately – you’re not watching TV or sitting on your ass! Isn’t that enough?!?
A piece of advice – try to always remember not to think about the usual stuff – work, shopping, chores. Use this quiet time to go beyond the usual thoughts, let your mind wander, thoughts freely flow. This way you’ll ensure that most of the benefits are actually going to happen.
If you want to get fitter (and are not already a sporty person), then there’s no good excuse not to walk and move more. Consciously making yourself walk instead of drive, carry instead of wheel stuff around, you will notice an improvement in your overall health, perhaps even happiness levels and creativity. Combine the walk with listening to a good podcast or walking in nature and you’ll never look back 🙂
Next step? Get dressed, go out and enjoy the walk 🙂