Lately, I’ve been making a point to walk for about an hour in the city every single day before or after work.
I turn on a podcast, consciously quiet my constantly churning mind assuring myself that I can always ruminate on my long to-do list afterwards, and set off in whatever direction I choose that day.
One of my favorite parts of living in New York City is how multifaceted it is, how each neighborhood is its own little city, easily distinguishable and identifiable, each with something different to offer.
I think walking is the absolute best way to discover that.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a city or a small town or a plot of farmland, walking is absolutely the best place to explore and become totally familiar with the lay of the land.
I’ve lived in this city my whole life, and still I often stumble upon a little corner or a little park that I’d never seen before, though I’d walked past it countless times.
My guess is I was probably doing that thing where I stare at my phone and forget where I am and what I’m doing and that I’m missing life because my eyes are glued to the screen. #realtalk
I’m going to be totally transparent right now and admit that I used to despise walking because I felt it was a waste of time that I could be spending on an intense HIIT workout or a butt lifting Pilates blast. After all, walking wasn’t going to burn nearly enough calories, and it wasn’t toning my muscles, so what’s the point?
Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds.
It took years, but I’ve finally reached a place where I am very intuitive with my exercise routine, and I never push my body beyond its limits. I stay active because it’s what keeps me sane, but gone are the days that I stick to a regimented intense workout routine week after week after tiring week, that leaves me too exhausted to do anything but lay on the couch when I’m not sweating my butt off on my mat.
Right now, I dialed back the amount and intensity of exercise I do, which leaves me with a nice surplus of energy that is then perfectly suitable to use for walking.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love sweaty intense workouts, but I just think they should not be a constant thing, and they should not be getting in the way of your life. There are so many different seasons of life, and doesn’t it make sense that the way we work out should also evolve and change as we go through different phases?
I don’t want to ever be stagnant. Give me growth and change any day.
So when someone asks me if walking is enough for exercise, I ask them to turn the question inwards.
If walking is what you need to feel healthy and active and happy and clear-minded, then of course it’s enough. Not everyone’s body does well with HIIT or weight training or even Pilates.
Now of course I’m all about experimenting and trying different things for your body. So maybe one day a week you could try a new fitness class in your neighborhood, or maybe just turn on a YouTube video and sweat it out in your apartment. Maybe you like dancing, and your body will love it if you turn on a random song and have a jam sesh. Whatever works for you!
And for the person who works out regularly but doesn’t do much walking, I urge you to add it into your day. You’ll be amazed at the clarity and energy it brings to your day. Use it as a time to think about your goals or what you want to do later today. Use it to listen to music and pretend you’re part of a music video. Listen to a podcast, and be inspired or learn something new.
I cringe that I ever thought that hour of walking could be a waste of time, when it is currently my favorite hour of my entire day. It helps me recenter myself, find purpose and clarity in my day, and just breathe. Plus, I get to fall deeper and deeper in love with my favorite city every day.
And for the love of nut butter, drop the whole 10,000 steps bullshit. Yeah, it’s awesome if you can get that many in every day, but I hate how society currently has this huge emphasis on numbers and reaching a certain benchmark to be healthy. Like what if you walked 9,999 steps one day; does that mean you failed?
My main point with all this is to just listen to your body. You know full well if you’re setting certain rules and bounds on yourself. I urge you to look inwards and figure out if what you are doing is what you actually want or what you think you need.
It’s a constant work in progress for me, but I’m slowly learning.
P.S. One of my all-time favorite bloggers Robyn from The Real Life Rd wrote a couple great posts that relate to some themes I brought up here. I’ve been reading her blog for several years now, and they really sparked the fire within me that makes me so passionate about listening to your body and breaking free of arbitrary rules. She’s wonderful.
Food for thought
Do you walk regularly?
Do you ever find yourself skipping walking in favor of something more intense?
What is your favorite way to occupy your thoughts while walking?
I’d love to hear your thoughts! <3