I used to be one of those people that assumed if I wasn’t dripping sweat, borderline dizzy, and red as a tomato after a workout, I might as well have just skipped it all together.
I never missed a day at the gym; HIIT was my preferred form of exercise. Right when I was in the best cardiovascular shape of my life, COVID swooped in and paused our regularly scheduled fitness programs.
I, like many people, got creative with my workouts. I thanked the universe for my dusty sets of dumbbells under my bed, and for enough resistance bands to build the world’s largest rubber band ball.
The camaraderie that came with every fitness influencer and their mothers posting home workouts seemed to be my saving grace for a while. But, surprise, surprise, with a global pandemic and a shared, 600sqft apartment comes a lack of motivation (and space!) for workouts. I couldn’t do a jumping jack without smacking my hand on the ceiling fan, and my trusty resistance bands were beginning to betray me by ripping apart (don’t even get me started on kettlebell swings). The straw that broke the camel’s back was in the middle of a 30 second set of jump squats, my downstairs neighbor made it known they were not in support of my COVID fitness journey.
While I wanted to use this all as an excuse to stop working out, I found myself feeling twice as bad if I didn’t get my heart rate up in some capacity during the day.
So I started going on walks.
At first it was a quick 10-15 minutes around 3 pm to break up the work day. But over time, they became a nightly activity that I genuinely looked forward to. Over time, I started replacing my high intensity workouts with a daily walk or two and I started noticing some interesting things:1. I was less exhausted after a workout
Usually after a super intense workout, not only was I ready to eat everything in my kitchen, but I was definitely overworking my body. Walking is super gentle, yet, if you keep a rapid pace, you can still get your heart rate up. And even though I’m not jumping, sprinting, or doing burpees, I still manage to break a decent sweat.2. I listened to all the podcasts
I know some people can listen to a podcast when they go for runs or when they’re at the gym, but with that intensity of workout, I personally can only get through it with Nicki Minaj rapping to distract me. At a walking pace, I feel I’m able to tune in a bit more and actually absorb the podcast content.3. I started having some interesting new ideas
I believe there is a fancy word for when you clear your mind called “meditating”? Walking has the ability to put you into a sort of meditative state and allows you to observe and challenge your thoughts. If I’m upset about something, going on a walk encourages me to unearth the root of the issue and helps me figure out solutions. Similarly, I’ve had many minor epiphanies while walking. From discovering the source of some limiting belief, to choosing what I’ll write about next, my mind reaches new conclusions during these contemplative periods. I’ll admit most of this happens after my airpods have died and I’m forced to walk in silence, but those usually end up being the best walks.4. I spent more time outside
The amazing thing about walking is you can literally do it anywhere. And while treadmills are always an option (I live in Seattle, WA so at times--the preferred option) walking outside adds a whole other element to exercise. Plus, working a desk job (as many of us do), I occasionally have days where I haven’t stepped a foot outside the entire day. Walking gives me a proper excuse to catch some fresh air.5. I explored new places
I believe one of the best ways to mix up your routine when it's starting to get monotonous is to take a different route. Whether that’s straying from your usual commute to work, or turning left instead of right at the intersection, getting a little lost on purpose can lead you to some pretty neat places.6. I slowed down
We live in a society where we are unfortunately praised for hustling, grinding, and never taking a break. I’d like to think this narrative is changing a bit--especially in the aftermath of the pandemic--but it’s hard to say. I used to think if I was going to do any sort of cardio or work out, it had to be fast, intense, and super challenging, otherwise what was the point? Walking has helped me transform my mindset. There are times I still have to consciously stop myself from the temptation of turning the walk into a run and double the movement as a mindfulness practice.
It feels almost too simple to be effective but honestly, sometimes the basics are the best. So if you’re looking to slow things down, switch up your cardio, or even feel intimidated by the idea of implementing a new workout routine--give walking a chance.
Written by: Eloise O’Loane
Instagram: @elloweeze11Twitter: @elloweeze11