Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk
There’s one fact that is undeniable in America; we just don’t walk enough. A dependence on automobiles, elevators and escalators, coupled with a growing lack of interest in exercise and a healthy diet, has made walking something of a rarity in most parts of America. And it’s costing you, in so many ways.
In the now infamous documentary Super-Size Me, Morgan Spurlock carried a pedometer with him to ensure that he took the same number of steps that the average American takes each day (5000 at the time of filming…who knows what it is now). He ended up taking buses and taxis a lot. In one scene, he’s already exceeded his 5000 steps before he even had breakfast. Of course, that was in Manhattan, where walking is often quicker than taxis and buses.
But should this be an excuse for people who don’t live in that bustling metropolis? When I lived in England, which was for most of my life, I walked everywhere. I walked to school, to college, to the city centers, even to the grocery store (which was 40 minutes each way, and longer on the way back when I was laden with shopping bags).
Even though my diet was pretty bad most of the time, my weight stayed at a healthy 180-185lbs. I walked away the weight daily. Sometimes I would have to take public transportation to get to work, but I still had a good walk to and from the train stations or bus depots. And I didn’t drive. Why bother? I had everything covered and London was a hellhole to drive in.
Fast-forward 8 years and I’m no longer 185lbs. I’m closer to 215lbs these days, and although my diet is much improved (less beer, more vegetables, less beer) I’ve been steadily gaining for the last 7 years. And what happened in that time? Well, I moved to America and learned to drive. I wish there were a longer, more complex answer but that’s it.
Until recently, I was irritated if I didn’t get a parking spot close to the doors of my destination. I would get annoyed when my friends wanted to take the stairs. I would find myself getting seriously peeved if the moving walkways and escalators were out of order. And that’s what I think the problem is. A diet of cheap fast food, computer games, TV shows and a complete addiction to the car as a means of transportation has left millions of people overweight, in bad health and dying at an earlier age. As the Daily Mail recently reported:
"Parents could soon begin to outlive their children because of an epidemic of obesity afflicting the younger generation. Many youngsters are now so grossly overweight they face premature death caused by a heart attack or stroke."
This unhealthy lifestyle costs us all. Healthcare is the main rising expense, as well as drugs needed for diabetes, joint pain and so many more ailments that come from a lack of simple, daily exercise. And as your waistline increases, so do the costs of many other things you take for granted. A lot of the larger clothing sizes cost a few extra bucks, and even the airlines are starting to charge for obese passengers.
So, what are we to do? And what am I doing? Well, I’m walking more. Yes, I’m also cycling and working out, but I’m walking way more than I used to. It’s a tough habit to get into, but once you do you’ll find it easy to keep going. Here are five ways you can put more steps into your daily routine:
1: WALK from the back of the parking lot.
Whether it’s at a grocery store or your job, park much further away from the doors than you usually do (making sure you’re in a safe spot of course). Those extra hundreds of steps you take each time will really add up.
2: WALK up and down the stairs.
Don’t be tempted to take the elevator every time you have to go up and down a floor or two. Admittedly, if you work at the top of a 50 story building, that’s not going to be a simple walk. But when it’s just up a flight or two f stairs in a mall, at work or in an airport, forget the elevators. And if you have to take the escalators, walk up and down those instead of just standing there.
3: WALK on your breaks.
Most of us get a few breaks at work. An hour for lunch and a couple of 15 minute breaks in the morning and afternoon is fairly typical. Instead of sitting around chatting or trawling the internet, make use of your free time. Take a walk around your floor, your house, your building or wherever it is you spend your day. These additional steps will also give you more energy.
4: WALK your dog (or someone else’s).
It’s easy to get fit when you’ve got a purpose. In this case, taking your pooch on a long, brisk walk at least once a day will really help you burn some calories and fell good about yourself. And your doggie wil love you for it.
5: WALK to the beat.
Sorry for the lame title, but the message is good. With MP3 players almost being given away these days, it’s easy to walk to some of your favorite tunes. It’s also a good way to judge your progress. If you only walk to track seven one day, try going to track eight the next. Or maybe you’ll have covered more ground the next time you get to track nine.
So, that’s a simple but cheap and effective way to get healthy and lose some weight.
If you’re looking for ways to liven up a walk, there’s a great publication out there called The Walking Deck: 50 Ways To Walk Yourself Healthy. Amazon has it right now, and this set of 50 handy cards gives you some great ideas for diversifying your walking routine. Get walking, get healthy and get yourself out there.