Walking is extremely underrated as both a stress reliever and fat loss tool. Unfortunately, a large proportion of society believes that any simple means of stress relief or weight loss is ineffective. Of course this is completely untrue. Here are 3 reasons why everyone should be walking more.
1. You Probably Sit Enough Already
If you haven't heard it yet, sitting is the new smoking. Multiple studies have been published in recent years looking into our much too familiar relationship with chairs.
The Journal for the American Medical Association found that sitting 8-11 hours per day increases risk of all-cause mortality by 15% compared to those who sit less than 4 hours per day. Increase sitting hours to 11 or more and you're looking at a 40% increase in risk of death. 11 hours of sitting a day sounds like a lot, but go through your typical day and add up the hours: I bet you'll be surprised.
Inactivity is a slow killer. Use breaks at work or take breaks throughout the day to go on a brisk walk. Not only is it rejuvenating, chances are you'll be prolonging your life as well. Win-win.
2. It's Rejuvenating
Unless you're extremely overweight or are scared to walk around your neighborhood, walking should be relaxing and invigorating. Preferably find a more scenic setting for your walks; around a park, golf course, or lake for example. If that's not an option for you, try to find a setting that is somewhat relaxing so you can let your mind wander.
Use walks as a time to clear your head. Oftentimes solutions to work or life issues come more easily in a relaxed setting. Do your best to escape the "hustle and bustle" attitude that afflicts most of us and take time to notice the things around you. You'll feel much better once you get back home or to your job.
3. It's a Great Fat Loss Tool
Some may think it's strange to designate walking as a fat loss tool, but hear me out. As a personal trainer, I prescribe very little in the way of traditional cardio to my clients. Instead I recommend they walk as much as they can. The reason I recommend this is three-fold:
1. Balancing stress
Strength training and traditional cardio are negative stresses. Walking is a positive stress. Continuing to add more and more strength training or cardio to your fitness regimen isn't the answer: both of those will lead to burnout. Walking actually helps to recover from negative stresses such as work, strength training, or traditional cardio. This makes it perfect to add into you day whenever possible.
2. Time efficiency
Strength training doesn't necessitate increased duration to prolong progress because the weight can always be increased. Cardio, on the other hand, requires increased duration to continue progressing. Eventually your body adapts to the stress by improving efficiency so it takes a longer amount of time or a higher intensity to burn the same number of calories.
Traditional cardio's effectiveness diminishes as your fitness increases. Therefore it is not a great tool from a time efficiency perspective.
3. Long-term results
Lastly, I care about the long-term results of my clients, not just putting them on the treadmill for hours on end so I can look good when they lose 10lbs in a month. The vast majority of people do cardio for one reason: to burn calories. They believe it's necessary to use cardio as a means to create a calorie deficit.
However, I prefer to teach the basics of proper nutrition since it's considerably easier to create a calorie deficit with food than with exercise. This way you don't have to add more and more cardio as you get in better shape, and you save the time of sitting on the treadmill or elliptical and can use that time more effectively. Furthermore, you won't be a victim of the plethora of diseases that stem from consistent improper food choices.
Point 1 favors walking while points 2 and 3 disfavor traditional cardio. That doesn't mean I hate cardio or never recommend it; I just find walking to be a much more suitable tool for fat loss if minimal stress, time efficiency, and noticeable long-term results are desired.
Try to find more time to walk throughout the day and soon you'll find yourself feeling much better, physically and mentally.