Walking 3 to 5 miles per day is a human physiological requirement. Our bodies have a need for natural movement, and walking is one of the best ways to fulfill this need. Your body only functions at optimal capacity if you’re walking each day. Your blood flow, nerve function, and the ability for your cells to get nutrients are all impacted by your movement, particularly walking.
We’re often asked, “Can’t I just run or ride a bike to get meet my daily movement requirement faster?”
And our answer is a resounding NO. There is no problem with running or biking, but it can’t replace walking. They have different physiological effects on your body. So feel free to run or hop on a bike only AFTER you’ve met your walking requirement for the day.
Another question we often address is, “What do I do if I don’t have the time or space to walk these long distances each day?”
And for that question, we have great news! The health benefits of moving for shorter amounts of time spread throughout your day rather than in one 30–60 minute time block are greater. And let’s talk about why. Thousands of years ago, humans moved throughout their day to find shelter, safety, food, and water sources. Their walking and movement were distributed throughout the day.
Our bodies were designed to move frequently. You can spend 30 minutes to an hour at the gym, but if you aren’t moving much the other 23 hours of the day you’re sedentary.
So those who think you don’t have time to walk more, rejoice! When in doubt, it’s better to space you’re walking out throughout the day rather than walk all 3–5 miles at once then not moving the rest of the day.
So with all that being said, most of us aren’t getting the walking in each day we should. So here are our tips and tricks for making walking one of the activities you look forward to the most!
1. Listen to an audiobook or podcast.
This has been one of the greatest tips I’ve implemented that motivates me to walk more. I’ll be the first to admit audiobooks aren’t for everyone. And at first, I thought they weren’t for me either. But then I realized I just hadn’t found the right books to consume in audio format. It might take some trial and error, but find what books you like to listen to, then get moving! Podcasts are another great option. It’s a win-win, you learn while moving.
And one of our favorite audiobooks, Move Your DNA, even measures the chapters in walking distance. This is a great book to start with!
2. Find a walking buddy
Have you struggled in the past with a walking habit due to lack of accountability? A great way to hold yourself accountable to walking regularly is to find a walking buddy. You’re much more likely to be consistent when you know someone is expecting you to show up. This is also a great way to spend time with like-minded individuals who value their health. See if you can recruit someone you know, or start a walking group in your local community.
If you don’t have someone local, find a friend who also has a Fitbit or other wearable device. You can each track the other’s steps, motivating you both to walk more. And better yet you can participate in weekly challenges with other users of the device.
3. Make your environment less convenient
You’re likely missing out on a huge opportunity to get more walking in your own home due to the set-up. Conventional wisdom tells us to set our homes up to make ourselves work less, but what if you did exactly the opposite? Stop using your laundry basket and carry your laundry in your arms instead. Yes, you’ll have to make more than one trip to your washer and dryer but this doesn’t take much more time and you can double or triple your steps associated with laundry. The opportunities to modify your life to make it less convenient in the name of better health are endless.
4. Swap driving for walking
This one is somewhat similar to our last tip but involves thinking about how to make life outside your home more active. Think about the places you drive on a daily basis and consider swapping out driving for walking. If this option isn’t feasible, at least consider parking in the back of the parking lot or taking the stairs everywhere you go instead of the elevator. The little things really add up!
5. Vary your normal walking routes
There is nothing wrong with walking indoors or on a treadmill, especially during the winter months. But you should be aware that the treadmill has a different effect on your body than walking overground. Walking outdoors also has a different effect on both your body and mind than walking indoors. Keep your walking more exciting by varying your walking routes. Walking outdoors in different environments also makes this a mindfulness exercise. Stimulate your mind by getting out and exploring new places.
Have any other tips and tricks for making your day more active? Share them in the comments, we’d love to hear about them!