Why I Ditched Running and Fell In Love with Walking

Don't beat yourself up about ditching running for walking - here's why I made the switch and how you can make the most of it.

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I’ve never been crazy about running. I’m sure you’ve heard many runners say they ‘get into a rhythm’ when running. Well, that’s not me! 

For me, running feels uncomfortable, I struggle to regulate my breathing and most sports bras are absolutely useless. But as most of us do, I used to believe it was the only way to lose weight and stay fit. I so badly wanted to be a runner, but it was just so boring!

I have so much respect for those love running, but I also appreciate the fact that I finally realized it wasn’t for me. In 2019, I decided to start walking instead. 

Why I prefer walking

1. Fewer injuries

I’ve experienced significantly fewer injuries or discomfort in my hips, knees and feet.  And fortunately, a cohort study, assessing the risk of injury among 14 356 participants in different physical activities, supports it. The study determined that the injury-rate among walkers are half of that among runners.

This is because walking is lower impact than running. During running, the force going through your bones and joints increases to between 2 or 3 times your body weight, and repetitive compression through your joints during long runs, increase your risk for musculoskeletal injuries.

2. Mental health

This is probably the main reason why I fell in love with walking. 

Walking is my way of destressing and clearing my head after a long day. I usually listen to my favourite podcast, have a chat with my sister or friends, or simply do some breathing exercises. 

Now, I know most runners say running do the same for them, but this wasn’t the case for me. I didn’t feel relaxed or de-stressed after a run, because I couldn’t get my mind off how incredibly uncomfortable I felt.

Besides, experts report that walking can also effectively improve an individual’s mood and cognition while relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety.

3. Weight loss

Both running and walking are great for weight loss. Running, however, burns more calories in a shorter duration of time. So if you’re looking to lose weight fast, running might be the better choice.

Even so, walking is a more sustainable option for me. I no longer dread going for a run and I’m more likely to actually do it!

Other benefits

– Improves your health

Walking for about 30 minutes a day can effectively reduce our risk of heart disease such as stroke by 35% and type 2 diabetes by 40%. Other than that, it helps to manage healthy blood pressure – and cholesterol levels, while also lowering our risk for falls and certain cancers.

– Enhance sleep quality

Walking is proven to enhance sleep quality by boosting the impact of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin and regulating our circadian rhythm.

– Strengthens bones & joints

Weight-bearing exercise such as walking promotes bone formation and increases bone density. The strengthening aspect of walking further supports the surrounding joints and therefore, helps us to manage and reduce our risk for developing osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

Source: Unsplash

How you can also get the most from walking

1. Walk outside

I enjoy walking outside substantially more than on a treadmill. Walking outside seems like less effort, while also improving my balance by strengthening stabilizer muscles more effectively, and burning more calories due to the uneven terrain and obstacles.

If your environment doesn’t allow you to walk outdoors, simply adjust the treadmill to an incline walk and you’re set to go.

2. Maintain a moderate-to-fast pace 

According to the WHO, we should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. 

I generally use the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) modified Borg scale, to maintain a moderate-intensity pace (4-6). I try to make sure I sustain a pace where I breathe heavily but still able to keep a short conversation going.

Once, I start feeling like it’s difficult to speak, I know I need to slow down. This way I effectively target my cardiovascular fitness.

RPE Scale

10MAX effort
Impossible to keep going and completely out of breath. I’m going to faint.
9Very Hard 
Very difficult to keep going. Can barely breathe or speak.
7 – 8Vigorous Activity
Uncomfortable. I’m short of breath and only speak in short sentences.
4-6Moderate Activity
Breathing heavily but can maintain a short conversation.
2-3Light Activity
Easy to breathe and keep a conversation going. I can maintain this for hours.
1Very Light Activity
Little to no effort. I feel like I’m lying in bed or relaxing in front of the TV.

3. I listen to a podcast

I love the fact that I’m mentally stimulated while walking, so my go-to is listening to a new podcast. Podcasts make me feel rejuvenated, motivated and more productive because I always learn something new!

4. Walk with a friend or phone one

Walking with a friend is a great way to be active and catch up with a friend!

Otherwise, I also occasionally schedule phone calls with family and friends during my walks and simply use my earphones. This way I save time and connect with those I don’t see on a weekly basis.

Walking: The most ancient exercise and still the best modern exercise.

Carrie Latet

On some days, I still go running, but I don’t beat myself up when I go for a walk instead. Walking is underrated. It’s much more than just physical exercise…

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