Walking Is My New Favorite Exercise
And 5 reasons to get off your butt and move
Hey there! Welcome to Part-Time Writing. If you're interested in learning about writing, work-life balance, and other interesting topics, subscribe below (or if you want to pass it along to someone else who might be):
Everything they say about daycare is true.
All of my friends and family with kids of their own tried to warn me. But did I listen to any of them? Nope. You're looking at a guy who hasn't been sick in almost a decade. This immune system is nigh impenetrable. Maybe the occasional runny nose or slight cough here and there but nothing more.
If RSV, bronchitis, and COVID were bullets and ballistic missiles, my body's defenses were nothing short of Superman. Nevertheless, after just one week of daycare, my little 3-month-old boy proved to be kryptonite, and for the next 6 (yes, SIX) weeks I contracted all three previously named illnesses...back-to-back-to-back.
I couldn't exercise, could barely sleep, and I lost damn near 15 pounds — right there along with all of my pride and ignorance that I'd built up over the years. Needless to say, I was wrong. And the world did a wonderful job of humbling me, as it tends to do time and again. Daycare and infants are not to be trifled with. Don't let those cute little chubby cheeks fool you. They are pure kryptonite.
All that started the week before Thanksgiving. Fortunately, by the new year I was finally feeling human again — just in time to start exercising along with the rest of the New Year's Bandwagoneers. Except for me, it wasn't part of some resolution. I just desperately needed to get back to it. I think the worst part about being sick for so long was that I couldn't do shit, which is no bueno for my physical and mental health.
Once I felt up for it, I laced up my Adidas Ultraboosts (a Christmas gift to myself) and went out for a 30-minute jog. No kidding, within one minute my heart rate was up to 150. So I slowed my ass down to a walk and just kept that pace.
That was about 12 days ago. Horrified with how high my heart rate spiked, I figured I should just stick to keeping things easy, which is why I've been taking two 30-minute walks per day. Or pretty much whatever is needed to close these stupid rings in Apple Health.
When I was a kid, I used to make jokes at my mom for taking her daily walks.
"You know that's not really exercise right? You're just walking."
Yet she (wisely) kept up with them, and now I'm convinced I'll be doing the same, probably for the rest of my life. Point --> mom. Sorry for being so dumb.
Since I've started taking daily walks, I've honestly felt better than I have in years...in just 12 days. Cardio was always something I put on the back burner to lifting weights. I always believed that cardio was a waste and that I'd be fine if I just picked heavy stuff up and put it back down again.
"Cardio is for pu**ies, man! Just lift weights."
But once again I was wrong. Without gentle, sustained cardio, I was missing out on one of humanity's greatest tools for health and longevity.
There are many reasons to take a walk, but these are the 5 most important to me at this point in my life:
1. Improved health and cardio fitness
I don't know how to explain it, but for the past several years it's felt like something's been missing from my life.
As a kid, all I did was play sports and bike around the neighborhood. Throughout college, I played basketball and walked to classes and bars (I walked a lot, OK).
But as an adult, pretty much from age 24 up to 33, I've just been lifting weights and walking to and from the bathroom/kitchen. For a while, I tried keeping up with basketball and playing tennis, but nagging injuries have since prevented me from doing that for quite some time.
I've added walking to my daily regimen this year and (hopefully) for years to come because my health has become my most important priority. I want to live a long, relatively pain-free life for myself, my family, my kids, and friends. Staying healthy and active is the best way to do that.
That "something" that was missing? It was f cardio.
Just 30-45 minutes of walking a day:
Burns extra calories
Eases joint pain (I've already experienced fewer general aches and pains)
Boosts immune system function (walkers had 43 percent fewer sick days!)
Strengthens the heart and may reduce risk of heart disease by roughly 19 percent
Increases energy, improves mood, and (!!) extends life.
...among about a billion other unspoken benefits.*
It's also the easiest way to elevate your heart rate into Zone 2 and unlock that buffet of benefits too.**
2. Seriously, it's stupidly easy
All you have to do is throw your shoes on and head out the door.
You don’t need to chug a pre-workout shake or engage in a lengthy warmup. Just leash your pup, throw in some earbuds, tune in to your favorite podcast, and go.
I've quickly learned that walking is by far the easiest workout you can do for the ROI (yet again proving my mom was right). Plus, the friction to get started is so low there's no viable excuse you can use to talk yourself out of it, or at least I'm yet to conjure one that passes my own bullshit meter. If I refuse to walk, it's because I'm just being lazy.
It's also the perfect gateway into more advanced forms of cardio like jogging and running. As my cardio continues to improve, I plan to up the intensity so that I can stay in that Zone 2 target heart rate. But don't worry, I never plan on ditching walking altogether. It's firmly supplanted itself in my workout protocol.
3. Perfect for socializing or family bonding
I work a traditional 8-5 full-time job as an engineer, and my girlfriend works full-time just the same. Our days during the week are pretty much consumed with work, cooking dinner, and washing baby bottles.
We've noticed that our evening walks are when we get some one-on-one time to chat about our day and connect with one another. If the kids tag along, they jump into the convo too.
Something about walking just brings out the social butterfly in you.***
4. Also great for sparking creativity
I get that not everyone wants to socialize all the time. Personally, I tend to be more of a recluse who gets his dose of socialization and then slinks back into solitude.
Lately, I've been taking 30-minute solo walks during my lunch break and listening to a podcast like Huberman Lab or The Tim Ferriss Show. Hearing other people talk about things I'm interested in sparks a crazy amount of ideas for my writing. This isn't an exclusive benefit for me either. I've talked to a handful of other writers who are the same way.
One walk pretty much guarantees at least 4 to 5 new article ideas. I just keep my phone with me and jot things down in the Notes app. (Actually writing and publishing those articles is a different story.)
5. And for some off-screen time in sunlight and nature
The last thing I've really enjoyed about walking is that it allows me some much-needed off-screen time. I spend way too many hours sitting in a chair or laying on the couch staring at pixels.
On a bright, sunny day an outside walk is kind of like a mental reset for me. It invigorates the soul, hits me with that sweet, sweet Vitamin D****, and gets me out into nature as the good Lord intended.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, could benefit from less screen time and more time in nature.
If that's not enough to get you off your butt and on a walk, I'm not sure what will.
PS. You win, mom. And thank you.
*I couldn't possibly list out all the benefits of walking in this relatively short article, but trust me when I say they are boundless. DYOR.
**More details on Zone 2 cardio training for those interested. Dr. Peter Attia (THE health and longevity guy) says 180-240 minutes of zone 2 per week is the sweet spot.
***Some of my best dates and hangouts have been walks or hikes. 10/10 always a great time.
**** Details on Vitamin D here (what it is, mechanism, benefits, etc). Side note — examine.com is a fantastic trustworthy source for this sort of stuff.