Thursday, September 06, 2012

Walking is underrated

My husband and I have been getting up earlier most mornings and taking a 20-30 minute walk before breakfast. It gives my thyroid pill (now 175 mcg of Synthroid) time to work on an empty stomach. It also gives us some time to chat and wake up before the day starts. I have seen some bloggers knock an article for suggesting that people "just walk," and I think they may be misguided.  Sure, it's fun to train for and do a race, if that's something you want to do. It isn't necessary for weight loss, and I can point to my own experience to show that training hard for events does not automatically make you thin.

I think there are plenty of people who are turned off from activity because of some idea that they have to do it a certain way for it to "count." In The First 20 Minutes, Gretchen Reynolds points to research that says that hard training isn't necessary for health benefits:
The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active... Two-thirds of Americans get no exercise at all. If one of those people gets up and moves around for 20 minutes, they are going to get a huge number of health benefits, and everything beyond that 20 minutes is, to some degree, gravy.
I noticed when watching Season One of "The Biggest Loser" that big dude Maurice, who said he did none of the low-intensity "homework" Bob assigned did not lose as much as the rest of his cohort, even though he performed well during the high-intensity strength and interval exercise. Maybe the stress relief from walking  were what helped the other contestants lose? I know that these activities don't have a huge calorie burn. Even running, it's hard to burn the calories in a good-sized donut.  There may be genetic or hormonal things going on that we don't fully understand.

And even if it doesn't result in weight loss, something that makes you feel good and makes you healthier is worth doing, right? Right?

Besides, most of us have a partner, a dog, or a kid who would love the extra quality time away from the TV and the mobile phones.


  1. Good post, good thoughts. I love the feeling of running but like you, training for half-marathons didn't result in weight loss.

  2. I always think about when my diabetic grandmother needed to lose weight, she did a daily 30-60 min walk. Nothing fancy, not returning home a sweaty mess. I wonder if the secret is just the consistency that walking allows - you can do it anywhere, most weathers, you don't get sidelined by injury, it's free and doesn't take over your life? Interesting stuff...

  3. I completely agree on the benefits of the shorter walk. That's what I've been doing lately twice a day, and it just makes the whole rest of the day (and night) better!

  4. I've been walking almost every day for about 6 weeks now, and it's quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of the day. I can't afford a gym or a babysitter, so I have to find an exercise I can do with my 16 month old nearby. Walking is perfect because she gets a stroller ride, I get exercise, and we both get fresh air and sunshine.

  5. Any form of exercise is great, and walking is exercise! I suggest it to my husband almost every day - I wish he would go on a walk with me!

  6. I am SO with you on this...we tend not to believe that the simple answer is the right one, but it really is. I've been walking more and stretching more, consistently (which means "most of the time") and I feel a lot better!

  7. I'm with you. The only consistent exercise I get is walking for transportation. And I do it at least 15 minutes at a time 2 ways, for 5 days a week. It's done wonders for my health, well, that and youth have done wonders for my health.

    But when have I had the most struggles with my body? The year I moved far away enough that I had to take the bus. When did I loose the few pounds put on and got back down to my baseline? That would be this year when I moved back to a closer apartment, and I'm walking again.

    There's a lot of power in the little things. I'm pretty sure they make us.

  8. What a timely post for me to read. I need to add in exercise again, have a mental block if I'm not running for 40-45 minutes it doesn't count. Loved reading this. Thanks, Jen!


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07