Over the past few years, it's been harder to get out and exercise. I haven't always found it easy to spend time outside between pandemic lockdowns, at-home workouts, and remote working.
Sure, I could lace up a set of the best running shoes for men and go for a run, but cardio exercise isn't really my thing. I prefer strength training, which helps build muscle, but it doesn't get me out of the house.
Plus, I like being able to chat with others, get a coffee, and listen to a podcast when I'm out and about; not the easiest thing to do while running. But I realized that I could fit in a 90-minute walk each morning before work with a bit of planning.
You don't often hear people talk about walking as a form of exercise, but there are so many benefits of walking that it sounded like an ideal low-impact way to ease into the day, stay active, and get outside.
Although 90 minutes seems long, it only took a few tweaks to my morning routine to fit in a walk each day. I woke up slightly earlier, moved my daily meditation to later on, and strolled into work on my office days.
The most exciting thing about walking is that it can improve your health, promote wellbeing, and keep you active, and it doesn't cost a thing. Here's what happened when I started walking every morning for a month.
James is an experienced fitness writer and staff writer for Fit&Well. He started taking regular walks back in 2013 to improve his fitness and has since come to love stepping outside, whether heading out for a mindful stroll or walking to the office.
1. My mood improved
Although I enjoy my work, thinking about it is not a very relaxing way to start the day. Getting outside helped me focus on the moment instead of planning for the future. In that way, it was similar to the benefits of meditating every day.
But there was also something nice about being outside in nature. Okay, not quite nature (I live in a city), but people were out walking their dogs, birds circled in the skies, and I started to appreciate local parks and green spaces more.
I'm not alone in this, as a recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that "spending a lot of time in green space was significantly associated with lower anxiety and depression."
2. I was more productive
I decided on an early morning walk to get myself set up and in a good frame of mind. It also meant that I wouldn't get to the end of a long workday and opt for a night on the couch instead.
Heading out first thing also meant that I felt more energized when I sat down at my desk (although the coffee I buy at the local store may help too...). I was in a better frame of mind and motivated to get on with things.
Researchers have looked at whether you should exercise in the morning or evening, but there's no clear winner so far. The key to creating a long-term habit is to find a time that works for you.
3. My fitness improved
I've been using a set of the best adjustable dumbbells for at-home workouts for a few years now. I enjoy resistance training, but building muscle is only part of your overall fitness. Walking filled the cardio-sized hole in my exercise plans.
It's a low-impact way to stay active (it's much gentler on your knees than running), but, as a review in the journal Sports Medicine noted, it has health-boosting benefits, like reducing your blood pressure and risk of disease.
Despite what your fitness tracker says, you don't need to walk 10,000 steps each day to get the health and fitness benefits. Researchers suggest between 6,000 and 10,000, which is a more flexible target, making it easier to stick to.
Get the Fit&Well Newsletter
Start your week with achievable workout ideas, health tips and wellbeing advice in your inbox.
James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.
In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.
These three resistance band exercises for legs and glutes will strengthen your lower body and improve your posture
Workout Build muscle and boost your stability with this three-move resistance band workout
By Lou Mudge Published
This trainer's six-move workout builds muscle all over and boosts your mobility in just 18 minutes
Workout Improve your balance, coordination and stability while fending off future injuries with this short strength training workout
By Harry Bullmore Published
I tried meditating while I walked—and was surprised at how effective it was
Mindfulness Struggle to sit still for a seated meditation? Try taking your mindfulness session outdoors
By Sarah Finley Published
I took a 15-minute walk after every meal for two weeks, and the results were impressive
Fitness From improved digestion to restored energy, walking after eating has been a game-changer for me
By Daniella Gray Published
I tried incline walking for a month, and I was surprised by the results
Fitness Walking is a great way to exercise for free, but incline walking helps strengthen your legs and makes uphill walks easier
By Madeline Muzzi Published
Can Chrissy Teigen's 20-minute workout replace fours hours of weight lifting? I tried it to find out
Fitness Popular with A-listers and world renowned athletes, EMS training promises a full-body workout in just 20 minutes. I put it to the test
By Alice Ball Last updated