We’ve seen the turn of the overhead press. We’ve seen the pushup’s time to shine. Today we get even simpler, even more basic. Now comes a segment dedicated to an activity that nearly everyone can partake in!
Man has been walking the earth for thousands of years.
We are designed to walk!
The real value of walking lies in the fact that it is easy to perform (no equipment and no particular location necessary) – and unlike the pushup and overhead press, it’s technical demand is next to nothing. You needn’t be an acrobat, athlete or advanced trained individual. No, you just walk.
Now my personal favourite element of walking is: It eliminates excuses from almost everyone! There really is little to NO excuse not to walk.
Obviously those with disabilities are exempt from this category. But those who are very sedentary, really have zero excuses for avoiding walking. Just because you are very obese, that doesn’t provide you a golden ticket to inactivity – it’s the inactivity that has brought you to obesity!
How do we define “sedentary”?
Vast medical sources and fitness professionals alike generally refer to sedentary as anyone whom doesn’t take a minimum of 1500 steps per day. When you really stop to think of the quantity of 1500 steps, you realise it really isn’t much at all! If you aren’t taking 1500 steps per day, we can safely summarise: you are spending alarming amounts of hours sitting.
It is also commonly said and suggested that the ‘threshold’ for a step count daily target is around 10,000. This is the point where if you consistently hit this number, you will have a hard time being overweight or “out of shape”. 10,000 steps per day is a lot of movement. You may well have a real battle on your hands hitting this number without partaking in regular walks.
Further reasons to avoid sitting for too long:
Let me quickly establish that by “too long”, I’m referencing cases which you are sitting for longer than an hour at a time. This is the maximum duration you should spend sitting in one time window.
Posture – Without getting too anatomical, when we are seated our gluteal muscles are in a relaxed position. The gluteal muscles are hip extensors which work in opposition to the hip flexors – (Namely the Psoas). Because the hip flexors are constantly and unknowingly under tension, they often hypertrophy (build muscle) and as the gluteal muscles are often in a position devoid of tension, they can begin to atrophy (muscle degeneration). Without getting too technical, long term this can lead to postural issues such as spinal lordosis and an anterior pelvic tilt.
Blood glucose regulation – The longer you sit, the less efficient your body becomes at managing glucose. Glucose is your body’s preferred energy source. However when there is too much glucose in the blood, this can lead to a swarm of health issues and risks – such as diabetes and fat gain, even heart disease. The simple act of walking more keeps your body equipped to use glucose as it should, for energy to fuel activity.
Fat loss – In much the same way as mentioned above, walking can be seriously effective for burning body fat whilst preserving maximal muscle mass. Because walking is performed at such a low intensity, it is fuelled entirely aerobically. This means in layman’s terms; it is a prime activity to tap into stored adipose tissue which can be burnt as fuel for the walk itself. This is why many bodybuilders use and advocate empty stomach walking. They do this safe in the knowledge that their hard earned muscle will remain entirely intact. Higher intensity cardio such as jogging/running requires a faster fuel source (often glycogen). As fat isn’t a fast acting fuel source, in higher intensity activities muscle tissue can sometimes be the fuel source that the body turns to.
As I’ve portrayed, walking can aid almost anyone’s health……….
From the morbidly obese to the MR. Olympia competitor. In actual fact, the mere act of walking is often a brilliant starting point to any fitness journey. The very out of shape often just don’t have the required fitness level to go all guns blazing into a hardcore resistance training program or sprinting protocol. Besides, their joints are often very strained and anything of a plyometric nature will pose a considerable risk.
The solution – patiently and consistently use lower impact activities to reduce body fat and overall body weight to a figure which you can partake in powerful exercise methods such as strength training and sprinting.
Walking bonus points:
- Active recovery – For those of you who love obliterating your lower body on “leg day”, a brisk walk the next day can be just the ticket to superior recovery. Walking promotes blood flow to the damaged muscles but under a very low intensity that recovery isn’t compromised.
- Mental clarity – There really is no better way to clear an overloaded mind and get breathing nice and deep again!
- Communication – Walking can be a marvellous way to have a really focused conversation with someone. Not talking as much as you’d like with your spouse? Why not try taking a stroll for 30 minutes or an hour? No phones, no distractions. Just the unity of each other.
Make no mistake, walking IS exercise. I hope you are now intending to be more aware of times where you are sitting for prolonged periods and thus, do your utmost to reduce your time spent sitting and sedentary.
Take it one step at a time, and gradually you’ll be walking more.