I have been walking 10,000+ steps a day for two and a half years, and it is one of the best things in my life. It is, in fact, one of the best gifts I have ever given myself.
So, I like to write periodically about my walking and the benefits it brings. You can find links to my other walking posts below. I now walk anywhere from four to ten miles a day, and here are five benefits I have noticed recently about walking.
One: Walking is meditative.
I would personally like to meditate more because I know meditating can provide a lot of benefits like decreasing stress and anxiety and boosting confidence. However, I often struggle to sit and meditate for long periods of time. Recently I realized that walking is, in fact, a meditative practice.
Just like meditating, waking helps me clear my mind, connect with my body, and focus on my breathing. Because of this, I now consider walking my meditation time, and it is the kind of meditation that works best for me.
And this is good news because I walk about an hour and a half to two hours a day. That means I am meditating for this length of time. I feel great about that. In addition, I have the added benefits of meditating outside around trees, bird song, and the blue sky. All of these are also awesome for physical and mental health.
So, if you want to meditate but struggle with normal forms of meditating, walking might be a good option for you.
This is a picture I took at a local park I love to walk in.
Two: My heart and legs have gotten really strong.
I have noticed a dramatic improvement in both my heart and leg strength from walking consistently for two and a half years. In fact, I notice an improvement in my strength about every four or five months.
For example, my heart and legs feel so strong that I have started to walk quite fast on my walks. (By the way, I walked pretty slowly when I first started walking. I mention this because you can definitely improve your walking speed.)
This makes me happy. I know that strength and walking speed are directly correlated to healthy aging. And my walking practice has taught me that these health metrics are within my control. I can see and feel myself getting healthier with every walk.
I can’t wait to see how my strength increases throughout the rest of the year.
This is from a walk at a local nature sanctuary.
Three: Stronger Body Partnership
Content Warning: This item mentions weight loss in a neutral, body positive way.
If you know me personally or you met me in person in the last few years, you probably would have noticed that I lost weight. This happened because of walking a lot, practicing intuitive eating, loving myself, and listening to my body.
As I did this, the more I realized that some of my movement and eating habits didn’t make me feel very good. So, I made some changes.
And you might think that losing weight is my favorite thing about walking, but it isn’t. And in fact, I don’t really like talking about weight loss, generally. That is because I have had both a smaller and a larger body, and I often felt miserable when I had a smaller body because I was so worried about staying thin.
For me personally, focusing on thinness or weight loss is very stressful and cuts me off from my body. This makes it really hard for me to listen to myself and understand what my body needs. Maybe you have had the same experience.
Eventually I learned to accept my body unconditionally and appreciate it for its uniqueness. As I did this, I began to listen to my body more, instead of pressuring it to be thin. And listening to my body helped me realize that I needed to walk more and change certain eating habits so I could feel better and happier.
And I have noticed that the more I walk, the better I am able to tune in to my body signals. So, I have gotten really good at recognizing when I need to move more or less, change aspects of my diet, or make other changes in my lifestyle.
I think of my ability to listen to myself as Body Partnership. And developing a strong Body Partnership is much more important to me than weight loss, although weight loss is fine.
When I focus on losing weight, it often makes me sad and anxious. However, when I focus on building a strong Body Partnership, it encourages confidence, joy, and resilience. Walking helps me build better Body Partnership.
Also from a walk at the nature sanctuary.
I want to assure you that your purpose in life is not to lose weight, although it’s fine if you and your body decide that is what you want to do. Your purpose is to build a strong Body Partnership.
Here are some books that helped me build a strong Body Partnership.
Disclaimer: Of course, this item and the rest of this post is not intended as medical advice. This information only reflects my own personal experience. Please consult your doctor or nutritionist about any changes you wish to make to your diet and exercise.
Four: Walking simplifies movement and makes it stress free.
Before I started walking 10,000 steps a day, I wanted to move regularly. But I found it stressful.
That’s because I often felt like I had to relegate exercising to one specific time in the day. And I felt like I had to change clothes; go somewhere special like a gym; sweat a lot; and then come back home and change clothes again.
This made movement and exercise an elaborate event that stressed me out. Accordingly, I often decided not to do it. I really dislike pressure and over-complications.
Walking simplifies all of this for me. I don’t have to change my clothes to walk. I just walk in whatever I am wearing.
By the way, I do most of my walking in Xero Shoes . Xero shoes is a company that makes minimalist footwear. These kind of shoes strengthen your feet by giving them a lot of good contact with the ground.
And I walk all throughout the day whenever I need a break or stress relief. In this way, I combine movement with stress breaks, and it’s the easiest thing in the world.
From a walk in my community garden.
And I can do it wherever I am: in my neighborhood; at the houses of friends and family; or on vacation. I walk however long or short I want to.
This makes walking is so simple and pleasurable that I do it consistently and easily. It’s easy to make it a habit. I call my new movement philosophy “No pressure, No Stress.”
Recently, I have applied this same movement philosophy to lifting weights.
Five: Walking helps me lift weights.
I have lifted weights in the past, and I have wanted to do it recently, too. I know lifting weights increases confidence and mobility. It also contributes to playful, healthy aging. Nevertheless, I have struggled to make weight lifting a habit.
So, I applied my no pressure, no stress walking philosophy to weight lifting. Frequently after I go for a walk, I come home and lift a few weights. I lift as long (or as short) as I want to, aiming to make consistent progress, no matter how small, over time.
And it works.
This no pressure, no stress philosophy has helped me start to lift weights consistently, which is awesome. A little bit of lifting, with incremental progress over time, makes a big difference. (To read more about weightlifting, you might like to follow Molly Galbraith on Instagram. She’s really inspiring and body positive.)
In closing, I want to encourage you about your body.
Your body, no matter its size or current level of fitness, is awesome and a miracle. It’s your vessel for adventures.
If it feels like your body is telling you it would like to move more, consider taking up walking. You don’t have to start with 10,000 steps a day (I didn’t) or even make 10,000 steps your goal.
Choose a step goal or other movement goal that excites you and that feels like you can do regularly. If you think it would help , consider applying my no pressure, no stress movement philosophy to any type of movement that feels right to you.
You deserve to move every day (or most days). And it’s not because you need to be smaller or bigger. It’s because you are awesome and born for adventure.
Me happy after walking the other day.
Here are some other posts about walking you might like to read: