Workin on my Fitness: Rock your Walk
Tips on casual cardio.
March 8, 2022
If you’re a gym-goer like myself, you may have noticed the influx of members since the new year, a routine pattern for the beginning of January. And you may be looking for a way to workout in a less crowded environment so why not pick up some outdoor running? After all, cardio is everyone’s favorite variety of exercise, especially in the coldest months of Winter. Oh, how lovely the feeling of ice forming in your lungs and choking you with every sharp gasp.
Is it really a good workout if you don’t taste blood in your mouth and question your livelihood by the end of it?
If the sarcasm didn’t translate, cardio is a rather dreaded workout category for most, myself being no exception. Over the course of quarantine, I decided to work on my overall health – mental health was easy since I had no school, a large stressor for me, but physical health was uncharted territory. I had just started my gluten free journey after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, but working out aside from the occasional tennis match, which was unavailable at the time, was foreign. I had my diet balanced, but needed a slight increase in physical activity so I tried the infamous “Chloe Ting Ab Workout”, and it didn’t last. I tried the online Zumba classes – again a failure. The hassle of working out in a cramped room in front of a t.v. and usually an audience of my family since they had nowhere to go became too much for me to handle; so I took my journey outside.
Walking is a great way to improve cardiac function and a stress free way to start your fitness journey. While I now just go on walks for my rest days, they were a crucial stepping stone to get me where I am now, and I hope my fellow running haters can benefit from my experience. Here are my top recommendations to “rock your walk”.
Map Your Route
Of course you need somewhere to go in order to walk. For some people, starting off small is best, like walking to the entrance of your neighborhood, or even taking a few laps around the block. Any progress is better than nothing. For me, I found that throwing in some earbuds and walking without thinking is best. If you find a way to distract yourself through music, podcasts or calling a friend, I guarantee that you will walk distances you never thought possible.
Once you get a good feel for your average distance, it’s good to know the route. First, for safety reasons because you never want to walk alone in an area you’re unfamiliar with, and second, you will get bored if you’re walking in the same place over and over. I can’t stand to retrace my steps during my walks, so I recommend circle routes.
You can map out routes on Google Maps by opening “Your Places” in the app and clicking “Create Map”, which allows you to draw shapes and lines in your saved maps.
Distraction Is Key
Music is always a good option for high intensity workouts, but when going on walks daily, it can get tiring listening to the same songs over and over again.
My walks would not be complete without the endless array of podcasts. While I acknowledge true crime isn’t for everyone, I absolutely adore it, and if you do share that affinity, check out “Morbid: A True Crime Podcast”. While the title is fitting if you know what I mean, the two hosts are super bubbly and listening will make you feel as though you are a part of the conversation. But no matter your genre of podcast, a good way to stay consistent is by finding one you really like and confining yourself to listening to it solely when you workout. This adds an instant incentive to working out, which aids in the process of pushing yourself to get out there and go.
Even though long distance walking is much preferred to running, it can become taxing after a while. Sweat starts flowing, muscles throbbing, and general boredom sets in- all factors which can cause a shortened and less satisfying walk- that is, if you let them. It is imperative to embrace the pain, and I find it is best to do so by just not paying attention to it. Fake it ‘til you make it, and your brain will do the rest. False positivity will turn into real positivity eventually, and if the unwillingness persists then you may have crossed your personal exercise boundaries. The main appeal to walking is the fast recovery, so don’t push yourself too hard.
In the wise words of Pixar’s Dory – just keep swimming (or walking in this case). Any fitness journey is gonna have some roadblocks – there will be rainy days, ankle blisters, and general reluctance to get out there and stay consistent. A good goal to set when starting out is to make progress every time, whether that means adding a couple feet to your trek or a mile. Remember that progress looks different for everyone, so don’t expect instantaneous results. Make your walk something you look forward to, not another grueling task in your to-do list, and you will find your exercise being the highlight of the day.
You got this.