The Benefits of Walking- For the Non-Workout Buffs! October 21 2015
As you may have noticed, we talk a lot about living the “sweat life” and, being major sweat junkies ourselves, generally cater more to the fitness buffs in our blog topics. However, we do recognize that there are many people out there who don’t share the same affinity for the adrenaline rush of a good workout, or get the same therapeutic experience from strenuous exercise. Whichever category you fall into, it is important to understand the importance of basic exercise, and the body’s need for movement. You don’t have to kill yourself on the treadmill, but at a minimum you should be walking regularly to keep your joints and bones strong, your heart healthy, your muscles moving, and your energy level elevated.
Walking has many known benefits, both physical and mental. For instance, it’s gentle and easy on the joints, and therefore appropriate for people of all ages and fitness levels. (It’s especially useful for those with arthritis and the elderly.) Whether you’re a gymaholic or a gymophobe, here are four major benefits of regular walking that you just can’t ignore!
It’s great thinking time.
Another major benefit of walking is that it’s less strenuous than other forms of exercise, and therefore requires less attention, allowing us to focus on internal issues. Walking gives you a chance to think; it’s a time to solve problems, hatch brilliant ideas, think about your loved ones and relationships, and generally pay more attention to life. Unlike driving, walking really allows you to be in the moment and be more engaged with the outdoors and the world around you.
It Improves brain function and reduces stress.
Walking, particularly outdoors, is a great way to clear the head. It rejuvenates and refreshes you, and provides an opportunity to sort through your thoughts and deal with any anxieties you may be having. Walking lowers cortisol levels, reducing stress, and also improves circulation which allows more oxygen into the blood stream. This improves your focus, energy level, mood and overall productivity. If you’re starting to feel burnt out after sitting at your desk for a while, taking a quick walk is a great way to get your creative juices flowing!
It boosts the immune system and strengthens the heart and bones.
Regular walking has been proven to increase overall health on a long term basis. Particularly when done outside, walking allows us to soak up lots of vitamin D that can be difficult to get through food. Vitamin D is essential for good bone health and boosts the immune system. Frequent walking also maintains healthy joints and keeps the bones and heart strong, preventing heart disease and osteoporosis.
It keeps you toned.
Though walking won’t have the same impact on your physical appearance as more intensive exercises like running or lifting weights, walking briskly on a regular basis will keep your metabolism working help you burn more calories, which is helpful in maintaining your weight. Power walking will also keep your legs and bum toned, and if you walk fast enough that you are using your arms for momentum, you may even notice more definition there, too!
The best part about walking is that it really doesn’t take more than 15-30 minutes a day, but the more you walk the better! It’s all about finding opportunities. Opt for the stairs instead of the escalator, every time. Take a brisk stroll on your lunch break, or skip the subway and take the scenic route to work in the morning on foot. Your body (and mind) will thank you! What is your favourite time of day to get your walk on?
This subject may feel somewhat tired at this point, but I am glad to see the media beginning to focus more on the saturation of dieting and weight loss incentives and their negative impact on young children, particularly girls. With growing access to technology and various media outlets, children are being bombarded with messages about “losing weight fast” and seeing headlines like “get thin in just a week” on a daily basis. They are also being shown images of “the ideal body” that have been edited and manipulated, creating an unrealistic (and unhealthy) idea of what “normal” should look like. This is so common that they are growing up with the mentality that they should constantly be trying to lose weight, to be thinner, no matter their size or weight. Weight loss has gone from being a health requirement for the obese, to a common goal of the majority of the population, at least in Western society. It’s almost like a competition, who is the thinnest? Who has lost the most weight in the shortest amount of time? Exercise has become only about losing weight, as opposed to building strength, energy and endurance.
These negative messages impact all people, but children are the ones in the most danger as their bodies are still growing and developing and need proper nutrition to do so. They are also extremely impressionable, and are developing their habits and mentality towards their health and bodies that they will carry with them throughout their lives. Creating a positive body image in young people isn’t just about telling them that they are beautiful no matter what shape or size they are. Though this is important, there is more to it. Instilling a healthy body image entails focusing on the important factors, like health, nutrition and balance. There is a fine line between making sure they are conscious of their health and making good decisions when it comes to eating and staying active, and over focusing on these areas.
The best way to ensure that your kids maintain a healthy mentality toward eating and fitness is not to over- focus. Lead by example and provide them with healthy, balanced meals from an early age. Get them accustomed to eating this way without harping too much on the importance of it. This being said, don’t completely deny them of treats. This will only come back to haunt them later as they will likely have self-control issues when they are no longer restricted from these “forbidden fruits”. It’s all about balance and lifestyle. Treats are treats…simple as that. In terms of fitness, try to provide an active lifestyle for them. Don’t focus on the results of fitness, but the importance of staying active and involved in extra-curricular activities. Sports are a great way to keep them active, as they are social, fun and team based which builds trust and companionship. Companionship is a really key factor in my opinion. It’s healthy to have a little competition between peers, but competing with oneself can become obsessive and self-destructive, particularly when it comes to weight loss goals.
Long story short- sign your kids up for lots of activities! Encourage them to find an active sport that they love. Keep them well fed with a healthy attitude toward nutrition, and too busy to over-focus on things like being super thin or losing weight. If they remain healthy and happy, the physical results will come naturally.
Sweat vs Starve June 29 2014
As summer sets in and the bikinis come out, the whole fit vs. food debate is a particularly hot topic. Well, the science is now showing what most gym-junkies have likely known for years- there really is no debate. “As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise.” These new findings have given me a freeing new perspective on how to approach my own wellness.
Image via: http://www.2ndwindexercise.com/diet-and-exercise-better-together/
For years, I was dedicated gym bunny, obsessed with the “count” that is, how many calories did my workouts burn and could I push myself further, longer or faster to burn more. Yet, I often found it really didn’t make a big difference to my overall bottom (ahem) line. More recently, I’ve focused my energies on balance and fun. I still exercise each day because I’m addicted to the endorphins and it makes me feel mentally and physically great… but I now try to focus on the types of classes, movement, etc. that I really enjoy.
Image via: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/22571/35-for-10-zumba-fitness-classes-for-mom
This being said, I am more conscious of tracking what and how I eat, and I try to practice the 80/20 rule. During the week I use a mobile app (myfitnesspal, livestrong, weightwatchers are all great) and generally try to stay carbohydrate and dairy free. On the weekends, I enjoy myself. This approach has left me less injured, happier and feeling my fittest ever. So the jury is in for me- “the secret” really is a balance. Oh dear, could balance be my new obsession?
Image via: http://www.healthyfoodhouse.com/what-is-a-balanced-nutrition/