3 Incredible Reasons You Should Walk More
With our go-go-go lives, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the world of smart phones, fast transportation, and instant gratification. And many people follow the go-big-or-go-home attitude in their exercise philosophy alongside all of this technologic stress. This means that, for many, gentle walking and spending time with your thoughts falls by the wayside. But walking is equally important for your mind and body — just as much as your CrossFit or yoga class. Plus, it’s free! The benefits of walking are oft overlooked, but here are 3 incredible reasons you should do more of it.
Brain booster. According to a study from 2010, adults who walked for 40 minutes thrice a week over the course of a year exhibited brain growth in their hippocampus region. This is the region associated with spatial memory. That means the simple act of going for a walk a few times a week actually improves your brain function! Your brain needs exercise just as much as the rest of your body and, believe it or not, walking can improve both.
Energizer. People with fatigue often can experience vast improvements when incorporating gentle daily exercise like walking into their programs. As opposed to intense bouts of cardio, which can sometimes make you feel more fatigued… and more hungry, walking is a nourishing workout that lubricates your joints and energizes your entire being without over stressing or exhausting it. It also helps with circulation of blood and lymph and can make you feel more awake and alert. What’s more, walking can be meditative, which helps to reduce stress levels and energize your mind — especially if you’re out in nature.
Depression zapper. A 1999 study compared the effects of exercise, Zoloft, and a combination of the two on moderately depressed adults over time. The results were quite interesting. While medication may reduce the symptoms of depression more quickly, consistent exercise like walking squelches it just as effectively in the long term. The study showed that after 16 weeks there were no significant differences in the rates of depression between the groups. What’s more, after 10 months those who exercised without medication had significantly lower rates of depression than the other two groups. Even if you aren’t depressed getting out for a steady walk is a terrific mood booster.
Walking also can boost creativity and overall happiness, so don’t let your morning stroll fall by the wayside. Get out there in the fresh air and cruise for a mile or two. It’ll do your body and mind some good.
How to Overcome Any Excuse Not to Exercise
Most people begin a new fitness program with great intentions and lots of motivation--only to find both waning within a few weeks. The realities of work, school, social and family demands overwhelm the desire to get fit, and exercise gets puts on the back burner. Before you start your next fitness kick, use these 6 strategies to make sure you don't use "being busy" as an excuse to not get moving.
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60-Second Cardio Moves
SparkPeople has always promoted the benefits of a 10-minute workout as a great way to start incorporating fitness into your life. Studies have shown that the benefits of 10-minute fitness bursts, including improved blood sugar control, can last for up to an hour after your workout ends!
60-Second Cardio Moves
1. High Knees March in Place
Starting Position: Stand tall with your back straight, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, and hands on your hips.
Action: Breathe deeply as you march in place with high knees, driving your knee up toward the ceiling with each step. Keep your hands on your hips as your march.
Special Instructions: Make sure you don't lean backward as you lift your knee each time. Lift your knees higher and/or march faster to increase the intensity.
Starting Position: Stand tall with your back straight, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, feet together, arms at your sides, elbows bent.
3. Reverse Disco Step
Starting Position: Stand tall with your back straight, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, legs placed wider than the hips and feet turned outward. Place both hands on your hips.
4. Step Touch with Double Punches
Starting Position: Stand tall with your back straight, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed and elbows pointing behind you, palms next to your waist. You can place a resistance band, measuring tape, jump rope or other long object on the floor next to you as a guide (optional).
5. Twisty Hop
Starting Position: Stand tall with your back straight, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, legs together, arms at your sides, and elbows bent 90 degrees with your forearms parallel to the floor in front of you. From there, twist from the waist so that your torso (and arms) turn to the right and your lower body turns toward the left.
6. Jumping Jacks
Starting Position: Stand tall with your back straight, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, arms at your sides, and feet together.
7. Mountain Climbers
Starting Position: Stand tall with your back straight, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, legs together, and arms at your sides. Bend forward to touch the floor (bend knees if necessary), shift your weight into your hands, then jump or walk your legs behind you to start in a plank position (hands under shoulders, abs pulled in tight, body in a straight line).
8. Front Kicks with Squat
Starting Position: Stand tall with your back straight, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, arms at your sides, elbows bent and feet hip-width apart. Make fists with your hands and bring your hands up in front of your chin as if in "defense." Keep arms up at all times.
9. Back Kicks
Starting Position: Stand with your back straight, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, elbows bent, hands in fists, feet together, and hands up in front of your chin as in in "defense." Keep your arms up at all times. Bend your knees and hips to come into a small squat, leaning slightly forward from the waist.
10. Pivot and Reach
Starting Position: Stand tall with your back straight, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, legs spaced wider than your hips, feet turned outward and knees bent slightly. Place your hands on your hips.