Fitness Corner: Walk your way through the pandemic

Walking is one of my own favorite forms of exercise and has been a pillar of my fitness routine for over a decade.

Walking, it seems, is now a “thing.” If there was a form of movement that most of us can do, made for a stay-mostly-at-home-avoid-crowds-crisis, it is definitely walking. And with this pandemic apparently here for the foreseeable future, as well as summer upon us, there is never a better time to make walking a part of your exercise routine.

Walking keeps coming to my attention again and again. A couple of weeks ago I talked to one of my in-laws, who couldn’t wait to tell me about her new and exciting workout routine—walking! This woman is seriously devoted to working out and has done all forms of intense exercise. Currently, she is walking three miles most days, down five pounds and feeling great.

Then there is my mother, who sent me an email last week: “I walked with a 66-year old yesterday, very fast…and so am all sore today! So I got a way to go…but would one day like to be this at 92…” and she included the link to this article: “Try To Keep Up With Australia’s Fastest 92-Year-Old Woman.” My mother is about to turn 77, and I can’t think of one reason why she couldn’t excel at racewalking!

Walking is one of my own favorite forms of exercise and has been a pillar of my fitness routine for over a decade. I started walking every day with my late husband Dan after we got home from training clients and managing cancer treatments. Our route incorporated Edmonds and Woodway hills for an extra challenge, and it was a time to re-connect and decompress after busy days. I cherished those walks. Without him, I walked alone, with music as my motivation. To this day, I walk mostly solo, these days listening to inspiring podcasts. Walking is inherently adaptable, and can change to fit anyone’s mood and circumstance. The variations are truly endless.

Some things to keep in mind about walking:

– Find the right shoes, the pair you choose for a leisurely walk may not provide enough support when you walk more often and for longer stretches.

– Walking is equally appropriate on your own or with a friend/family member (with social distancing/mask-wearing, if necessary.)

– When solo, mix it up by listening to music, podcasts, books on tape or simply the sounds of your walk.

– It’s better to walk a shorter distance every day or most days (and build up from there if you’re establishing a routine) than it is to walk a longer distance once a week or less.

– Incorporate hills or walk faster for more of a challenge to your legs and cardiovascular system.

– Walk where you feel safe, depending on your concerns about coronavirus transmission, traffic, or other factors.

– Find an environment/route you enjoy, if you hate traffic (as I do) seek out quiet streets, or if you don’t like crowds (especially these days) avoid popular areas.

– Even a short, leisurely after-dinner walk is beneficial, if that’s all you can manage.

– And, since we are in a pandemic, consider carrying a mask just in case you find yourself in close proximity to others. Masks are not very comfortable whilst exercising, but neither is COVID-19.

Finally, much more information (and potential motivation) is in abundant supply online. Some of the headlines I have seen recently include “Why Walking Is the Best Exercise During Coronavirus Lockdown” and “The Calming Power of a Simple Walk During a Pandemic” and “’It’s a Superpower’: How Walking Makes Us Healthier, Happier and Brainier.” I highly recommend this excellent article by Berkeley Wellness, “A Walking Workout,” which goes into greater detail about the many physical and mental health benefits of walking.

So why not walk your way through this pandemic? With so much about our lives currently so limited, walking is a great way to support our minds, bodies and most especially, our spirits.

— By Pritam Potts

Coach Pritam Potts is a writer and strength coach. After 16+ years of training athletes and clients of all ages as co-owner of Edmonds-based Advanced Athlete LLC, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. She writes about health & fitness, grief & loss, love & life at www.advancedathlete.com.

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