I am a walker.
Ok I'm also a runner. You know that.
I used to schedule walking on my workout day off or when I was rehabbing an injury.
But lately I've noticed it's the walking that's making the difference in my overall sense of joy and well being that I get from exercise.
Even on days when I'm running or swimming or training in the gym, I'm consciously scheduling a 2-mile walk. There's no real science behind the 2 miles - it was my first trainer, Reuel Tizabi, who suggested that 2 miles is the sweet spot for getting the most out of a walk. Since it takes about 20 minutes to walk 1 mile, I budget 40 minutes for a daily walk. True that means I'm eating lunch at my desk if it's a lunchtime walk, but I can also take my salad with me and eat on a bench.
If I'm not pressed for time and can fit in 60 minutes, I'll do 3 miles. I'm not saying it's a disaster or a waste if you only have time to get in 1 mile, I just try to fit in 2 miles.
Typically I use the time to catch up on podcasts. For news, I listen to The Daily and Up First. For fitness, I'm listening to Run to the Top Extra Kick, the Human Race, and the Runner's World Show, and I love Sarajean Rudman's RunYogiRun, although there aren't many episodes. I still listen to the excellent back episodes of Octane Athletic Performance. Favorite podcasts focusing on meditation, including guided meditations that are great for walking, especially in the middle of the day, are 10% Happier with Dan Harris and the Metta Hour with Sharon Salzberg. For fun and inspiration, I'm scrolling through Dear Sugar Radio, The Moth, Happier, Fresh Air, This American Life, The Hidden Brain, Katie Couric, Kind World, and By the Book. For politics, everything is depressing but there's Lovett or Leave It and Pod Save the World as well as Politico's Off Message for getting the back story.
But mostly I'm looking around. I've made it a point to discover different parts of my neighborhood and to observe everything from little book nooks holding books for the taking on neighbors' yards to renovations to flowers planted everywhere. There are a few of us out walking early, and we greet each other with a smile.
I bring my coffee with me if I'm walking before work, and the whole experience just sets my day.
At lunch I've got so many options in every direction around my office. Since moving to an assignment in the National Press Building at 14th and F, I can walk to the Mall or up 14th Street or toward City Centre or to the Penn Quarter. Seriously there is so much to see. During the school year there were hundreds of teens here with groups, with students and teachers and parents all wearing matching patriotic T shirts.
Yesterday I came across a TED Talk on Girl Trek and was blown away by this organization's mission and blunt attention to the high levels of obesity and obesity related diseases among black women of all ages. In addition to focusing on the health and weight loss benefits of walking, GirlTrek also notes that when black women walk around their communities they notice things and commit themselves to becoming catalysts for change. Watch the video for yourself and see what you think.
I track my walks - actually all of my exercise and food - through the MapMyFitness collection of apps, including MyFitnessPal, so I can see how much I'm actually doing every day. The app lets me share my workouts and walks with other friends on the app so we can cheer each other on. It's also an awesome source of inspiration when I'm feeling lazy after work (practically every night) and I see that one of my friends has just logged a walk or a yoga class or a workout.
Instagram helps with this too. Go ahead and get social! Post a photo of yourself after your walk and you can even post your stats from the app. I promise you the more you do it the easier it gets. I know - I used to feel squeamish about posting my workout stats until my college-age nephew told me how much he enjoys looking at my routes. And I use the hashtag #werunsocial. Try it for yourself and see how much support you'll get from this community! Seeing other people's posts about their activity always makes me smile and inspires me to get out there.
As much as I enjoy walking on my own and listening to podcasts and music, there isn't anything more fun than walking with a friend or a group. So if you're ever looking for a walking buddy - let me know! Feel free to use the #exercisehelps Facebook group to share inspiration and ideas and to look for a walking partner.
See you next time!