I’m not trying to insult you with this title, but merely offering some solid, sound and timeless fitness advice that is overlooked by the masses which will pay you valuable health dividends that anyone can do.
Most of the time in my fitness training is spent walking. Briskly walking that is. This is the answer I give to people when they inevitably get around to asking me what fitness activities do I spend the most time doing during any given week. Many are surprised by this answer and some think I am being evasive or can’t possibly believe that the majority of my time is dedicated to walking since I am known for training intensely with fitness tools such as kettlebells and sandbags. Brisk walking and hiking are incredibly important to my training program as they complement the more intense activities I perform ensuring that my physical and mental well-being stay fresh, vital, energetic, optimistic and pain free.
I look at the time I spend brisk walking and hiking as the Yin to the Yang of my more intense workouts like kettlebell and sandbag training. There has to be some type of optimum balance between these activities to truly be fit, healthy and happy with your training and progress and overall well-being.
I think some people expect me to tell them I spend my training time doing something more sexy or outlandish like wrestling Komodo Dragons or doing whatever ill conceived circus workout routines happen to be in heavy rotation on the late night infomercial circuit.
You know these workouts – they have names resembling disturbing mental conditions such as “dementia”, “frenzy” or “lunacy.” These are usually touted by the latest Hollywood fitness phony of the moment telling you how much they care about you and feel your pain backed by a scripted personal back story to further tug on your heart strings. All this as they empty your wallet and drum you into an orgasm of emotions and temporary satisfaction before buyer’s remorse takes effect.
I’m sorry to disappoint the perpetually sidelined, drained and over trained “no pain, no gain” crowd, but my training throughout the week is very reasonable, simple, brief and sustainable using the minimum dose of exercise intensity necessary to produce great fitness results all within a sanely designed program.
Don’t get me wrong – there is a time for intense and challenging exercise throughout the week, but you don’t need as much as you think to reach your fitness goals if you program your training properly and practice reasonable eating habits. Yes, I log my time during the week practicing and staying connected with kettlebell and sandbag workouts as well as bodyweight exercises and mobility work, but the simple movement of briskly walking get’s the lion’s share of my fitness attention.
Why? Because of the huge fitness dividends inherent in this timeless, effective and sustainable activity.
Benefits Of Walking
- Great for burning calories without a lot of wear and tear on your body.
- Aids in keeping you mobile and pain free as all of your “moving parts” are put through their paces the way our bodies are designed to move. Think of walking like giving all of your body’s moving parts a “lube job” as this simple act will contribute to combating stiffness and promoting smoother, unrestricted movement.
- Keeps your metabolism primed for fat loss. There’s nothing like moving your body around briskly for keeping nasty fat away- along with practicing reasonable eating habits of course!
- Walking helps to counteract the ill health effects of sitting in a chair, your vehicle or hunched over a computer for hours until you resemble the shape of a question mark which seems to be the modern norm. Our bodies will adapt to these poor habits and create health/movement issues up and down our bodies’ kinetic chain if we don’t practice movements to negate these effects.
- Walking can put problems into perspective. If you are human, you have problems. Period. We all have problems in our lives to varying degrees. They will overwhelm you if you don’t take the time to disconnect, sort them out, determine if they are real or perceived, mull over solutions you can live with and objectively ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen? I can’t tell you how many times I take a walk with some type of problem on my mind that by the end of my walk I have either come up with a confident solution or determined that it wasn’t really a problem in the first place and kick myself for letting it occupy my thoughts! The bottom line is that your problems won’t seem so insurmountable or you may even have resolved them before the end of your walk. Give it a try – all you have to lose are some nagging problems and some unwanted calories!
- Walking has been shown to help people suffering with depression – significantly improving their mood. Even if you don’t suffer from this tragic condition, your outlook and mood always seem to be improved after a nice brisk walk – I know mine are as are those who come along with me!
- Research indicates that walking can shore up and strengthen your immune system helping to stave off colds and other ailments. Maybe we can add “A walk a day keeps the Doctor away” to the old “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away” expression as an addendum to this folksy advice.
- Walking is a wonderful activity to counterbalance your more intense training sessions throughout the week helping you to recover quicker keeping you fresh and strong. You will find it will maximize your total well-being thus contributing to your quality of life.
- Walking lends itself to having greater peace of mind and will develop clarity of thought which will put your activities and life interactions in perspective.
- People who practice brisk walking regularly tend to stay on the planet longer and have greater longevity than those who are sedentary statistics have shown. So walk your way to a greater life span.
- Walking is a great stress reducer. Overwhelmed by certain things in your life? Welcome to the club! Get out and take a walk and allow your body and mind to reconnect for an overdue reunion and literally walk your mental and physical tension away.
- You may meet some interesting people and see some cool wildlife. I have enjoyed meeting and listening to the incredible lives of World War Two veterans, learning about eagles that I never knew inhabited my favorite hiking areas from wildlife photographers, learning about interesting breeds of dogs while talking with their owners and many other favorable encounters.
Get Outside and Walk If You Can
I am not a big fan of treadmills, ellipticals , steppers or any other over engineered piece of equipment used as a focal point in one’s training. I believe they shortchange the body in regards to movement quality, rob the body’s natural perception and connection to mother earth, promote unnatural gait and foot strike patterning and play havoc with the natural stimulus flow the brain is used to getting from normal contact with earthly terrain.
However, I do realize that a lot of people use these devices and respect their opinions regarding their use just as I expect a reasonable person to respect mine.
Having said that, you have better chances of getting a pic of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and Elvis in a group hug than you will see me on a treadmill or other over engineered fitness device!
I understand weather conditions or other factors such as certain physical rehab activities will sometimes limit you going outdoors and a treadmill may be your only physical outlet, but get outside when you can.
How To Get The Most Out of Your Walks And Hikes
Try walking or hiking over varied terrain. Cement, blacktop, dirt, gravel, sand, cobblestone, water, rocks and boulders – as long as it’s navigable. Your feet will transfer the appropriate stimulus to your brain as you walk over or through these various terrains and burn optimal calories based on your body’s effort.
Practice good breathing habits. Try to breathe in through the nose and out through the nose or mouth. Avoid what coach Steve Maxwell calls “panic breathing” which is breathing in and out through the mouth which contributes to the buildup of negative stress hormones in the body which invites ill health.
Mix it up. Balance getting out and doing some brisk walking by yourself to collect your thoughts and spend some quality alone time with getting out and enjoying walking with the
family and friends.
Just because it gets cold, don’t stop walking. The kids love it and it’s invigorating so bundle up and give it a go. Now I’m not saying walk in white out blizzard conditions or a minus 20 degree day – just use some common sense. The only time I won’t go outside is during rain. Most other conditions are fair game.
Disconnect from your phones and media devices while you are out strutting your stuff. Sure, take your phone if you need it as an emergency lifeline, but keep it holstered and avoid the temptation to fiddle with it and yap. Concentrate on collecting your thoughts and appreciating what’s around you and who you are with if accompanied by others. We don’t need to be connected to things 24/7. I see so many people who constantly are walking in constant connection with their phone like some bizarre umbilical cord that they are afraid to cut the ties to for fear of spending time alone with their thoughts.
Make eye contact , smile and give an enthusiastic greeting to those you encounter on your walks. This is great practice for those that are introverted and socially awkward to enhance their people skills and perhaps even make some new friends. Give it a try unless your instincts scream that someone you encounter is off kilter or a maniac then by all means steer clear!
How Often Should You Walk?
That’s easy. No magic formula needed to answer this – get out and walk as often as you can. I get out and walk almost every day, especially after an intense workout to promote active recovery to my central nervous system so I remain vital, strong and raring to go.
Walking is a very sustainable activity that you can and should do often unless your daily routine involves marching up and down Mount Olympus or exploring Death Valley then I would say back off the gas peddle a little with your frequency.
Some days I can only get out and walk for 20 minutes, some 30 minutes and some for over an hour. Everybody’s schedule is different, but invest the time and be consistent.
Look at all your walking sessions you perform whether short, medium or long like putting money in a savings account at the bank. Only the bank in this instance is your body. These walks add up at the end of the week and it all goes toward building your fitness wealth in your very own Bio-Bank establishing a healthy foundation that will pay you back with interest as your quality of life improves.
We’ve Walked To The End So Let’s Tie Things Up
Like I always say, getting fit and healthy isn’t that complicated. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. My mission is to share with you methods, habits, and practices that actually work and will improve your quality of life in a sustainable and sound manner.
It’s usually the simple movements done consistently that will bring you the most fitness success. Oh sure – if you want to learn how to use and program great fitness tools and movements like kettlebells, sandbags, bodyweight exercises and mobility drills into your routine then you need to learn proper technique and form. But even these incredibly effective fitness tools are relatively easy to learn if you are taught properly by those with the ability to position you for success in a learning-rich environment.
I trust I have conveyed to you the importance of getting out and doing some brisk walking and that you do not have to train crazy intense with the weights all the time to get great fitness results. In fact, too frequent and intense sessions with the weights will actually be counterproductive and burn you out and invite injury
I know that I am spotlighted doing various kettlebell, sandbag and bodyweight workouts and it would seem that I perform these intense and challenging workouts many times throughout the week, but that is not the case. I only do 2-3 of these brief, but intense workouts per week and some of them are as brief as 10 minutes since that is all that is required for great fitness results if you have the knowledge to program your training properly, safely and sustainably. The rest of the time I do some brisk walking outside every day and mobility work. There you have it – I told you great fitness and health doesn’t have to be complicated – or dull for that matter!
Choose The Simple And Effective Solutions And Avoid The Over Complicated
We live in a very hectic 24/7 demanding world these days whereby you will be constantly bombarded with a paralyzing variety of ridiculously complex solutions to your health and fitness problems. Please use your common sense and instincts of observation and look around you. Do we as a society look healthier and in decent, capable shape after decades of being told by every Hollywood type fitness phony to buy into their complex and unsustainable fitness programs that they lure the unfortunate low information exerciser into? I know I am saddened by what I see has become of the state of America’s health and fitness everywhere I roam.
So Step back, tune out the glitzy media hype and uncomplicate your fitness to get ideal results. When faced with multiple potential solutions/methods to getting you fit and healthy, do yourself a favor and choose the simplest solution that will give you the best results and avoid the over hyped and overcomplicated. In fact, try filtering all of your life problems through this process and go with the simplest, most uncomplicated and effective solution at your disposal and your life quality will soar. As for your fitness, taking a brisk walk or hike is one of the most simple fitness solutions that is so deceptively effective at accelerating you to improved physical and mental well being that the masses overlook its value.
So go take a hike!
Never rush to failure with your training, but strive to plan for sustainable and productive fitness success.
Stay Well! Take Action! Be Consistent! Train and Eat Smart! Get Rid of the Drains and Pains in Your Life! Value your loved ones and friends and get out and have some active, safe fun!
Your brisk walking pal,
I Eat T-Bone Steaks, Lift Kettlebell Weights And Walk Briskly Around Town and Trails!
Seven Stars Fitness