For years, doctors and scientists have been saying that our sedentary lifestyles are slowly killing us. And even if you spend an hour a day in the gym working out, what you do for the rest of the day can typically have a bigger effect on your overall health than that 60 minutes you spent exercising.
It’s been well established that regular physical activity throughout the day is important for our overall health and well-being. As a result, we’re all becoming far more aware of how much we move each day, as evidenced by the boom in fitness tracker sales.
But what about those days when we’re just not up for an intense workout? That’s where leisure walking comes in — it’s easily the most underrated form of physical activity.
At some point along our fit journeys, we began to think that we’ve outgrown walking as a form of activity. We started to discount it because it wasn’t calorie-burning or bad-ass enough. But it can still serve an important role in our lives.
Movement doesn’t always have to be all-out, high intensity, and drenched in sweat to provide great benefits. Physical activity serves so many other purposes besides just being a way to get exercise, lose weight, or improve fitness.
A Few Ways Leisure Walking Can Benefit You
It’s a great way to move more without adding more stress to your body. We all want to increase activity, but adding more impact and intensity isn’t necessarily better for our bodies and doing so can cause an unhealthy increase in stress hormones. But it is possible to move your body without piling on the stress and putting it through the ringer — that’s where leisure walking comes in.
It’s a fabulous stress reliever. Studies have shown that regular leisure walking can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Plus, we all know that being outside always seems to make everything better. When I find myself spinning my wheels without any real productivity, I go for a walk. It always seems to wipe the mental slate so I can chill and focus. Stepping out into nature is an amazing mental reset.
It’s an effective active recovery strategy. Leisure walking is a perfect compliment to higher intensity interval and weight training. Since it lowers cortisol levels in your body it can prevent overtraining. Instead of spending your rest days lying on the couch, possibly getting stiffer, why not move a little? Leisure walking also serves as a great alternative on those days when you feel too sore or worn out to get through your regular workout. Just remember keep the pace easy, conversational, and leisurely rather than turning into a power-walking cardio session.
It’s an excellent energizing tool while you’re at work. A leisure walk can provide an awesome pick-me-up to combat that mid-afternoon slump without the caffeine. Decompress outside with a little movement and you don’t even need to take a shower after.
So take the dog out for a longer walk or grab a cup of coffee and a friend to join you for a stroll around the neighborhood and enjoy the experience of simply being outside and moving.
Do you walk for leisure? If so, tell us what you love about it. —Alison