I could wax long and eloquent, or at least try, regarding the benefits of walking. However I’m going to be lazy, copy some links to a few articles for you to read and then tell you what I’ve been doing.
How to Walk to Mordor: A Hobbit’s Guide (Seriously, it might lean heavily on Lord of the Rings, but it’s chock full of great info)
LUNCH TIME WALKING
Now walking isn’t a magic pill. It isn’t the end all for getting in shape. However it is a great way to start on the path of fitness and well-being. It is also a good supplement to throw into the mix of whatever you are doing. Personally, I like to put a walk or three throughout my week as a low intensity recovery work out on rest days, especially when I am sore from a hard workout. Try it, you may feel like your movements are similar to the Tin Woodsman before he gets oil in his joints, but it is a great thing to do when you are sore and recovering.
During the months that are not too cold to walk around in business attire, I take a stroll during my lunch hour about one to three times a week. The route that I take is about a mile in length in the “block” (term used loosely here for turning left four times on my route) and sometimes I’ll go for a second time around the route. This tradition started about two years ago at the office I was at previously and my route was a sidewalk that would take me in a large loop around the airport. I enjoyed walking around the airport. I used to travel a lot when I was a kid so seeing airplanes, helicopters and even military craft taxi around and take off was awesome and a bit nostalgic for me. The route I take now at the other location is much quieter, a trade-off that I welcome, though not much to look at by way of scenery.
During my walk, I don’t casually stroll like I’ve got all day to do it. When I am walking by myself I take advantage of my full stride and “normal” pace, it’s not speed-walking, mind you. I guess I could describe it as brisk and purposeful. I say “normal” pace because I usually have to slow this down when I am with my wife and kids – I can leave them behind quite easily if I’m not paying attention. Any who, back to the walk. While I’m walking, my phone is in my hand on vibrate in case I am prematurely called back to the office, but I am not looking at it or focused on it. Again, purposeful. No texting, no social media, nothing. I have my head up and I’m alert to my surroundings. I also use this time to work on my posture because sitting at a desk for so long I find myself slumped over if I’m not paying attention to my posture. Head up, alert, back straight, purposeful.
Try it for about two weeks. If you don’t have the time during lunch, squeeze in ten to fifteen minutes in the morning before you get in your car and head off to work and walk around the neighborhood or do it right when you get home – it’s a great stress reliever and can help you leave everything at work where it belongs so you can focus on home.
Other walks I do on occasion are family walks around the neighborhood. The kids will run and play along side Mrs. Kenobi and I with the littlest one in the stroller and we’ll take about a mile walk. It is a good way to get out together, let the kids move around and use some energy as well as speak to my wife.
The last version of walking that I do is the “ruck walk”. I do this on a Saturday or Sunday. Basically, you take a backpack, stuff it with some heavy stuff and you walk. Now this is a gradual increase type of thing, both in distance and in weight. You start out with fifteen pounds in the backpack (books, cans of soup, small weight plates) and you walk around the block once. Next time, walk around the block twice. Feeling good? Add five pounds to the pack, add an extra block, get up to walking one mile. Don’t want to walk around the neighborhood with your backpack on? No problem, if you have a lawn to mow, do it then. I’ve done this a handful of times pushing my lawnmower without the push assist and my pedometer tells me that I’ve clocked in anywhere from one to two+ miles depending on all the yard work I do (mowing, mowing a second time if the grass is a bit long, using the trimmer, etc).
Walking is walking.
It might sound crazy, but this is why I do the ruck walks:
- It’s a mental thing. Doing any sort of workout will help develop mental toughness, whether you are running, lifting weights, swimming – to keep moving forward you develop a mental toughness. Walking around with a heavy weight on your back brings that to a focus in a different way. I’m up to 47 lbs and about 2 miles, and believe me, I feel every pound and every step sometimes. But it is developing an intangible quality that pours over into the rest of my life.
- It’s an strength-endurance thing. Closely coupled with mental toughness, yes, but I’m not looking on carrying heavy weight across the continental U.S.
- Lastly, and you might write this off as machismo or whatever, but as a father and husband – what if I need to carry my wife or my children to safety and do it quickly? Far fetched? Maybe. But I’d rather be able to do it and do it efficiently than to arrogantly think that my adrenaline will be enough super-juice to help me accomplish the task. It’s not just a “man” thing. Flip it around for the momma’s out there: what if you needed to carry your kiddos or your husband to safety? Or think of the greater good of just being a responsible citizen: What if you needed to lift and then carry someone to safety? Could you do it?
Here’s where I get off that little “soapbox”. Obviously, you don’t have to do any of these walking variations. This is just what I do and I hope that it helps you get on day closer, one step closer, to your goals.
Have you incorporated walking into your routine? Have you tried a “ruck walk”? I’d love to hear how things are going for you and what you’ve tried so leave a comment!
Be strong for you.
Be Strong 4 Family.