Are you sedentary? Are you one of the millions of Canadians who spend 10 or more hours a day seated? If your answer is yes, you need to fix it!
Sedentary behaviour is not the same as physical inactivity. You can exercise and still engage in sedentary behaviour. If you run or weight train one hour a day, but spend the rest of the day on the couch, then you are sedentary. The only way to not be sedentary is to get up and move more often.
This matters! Loafing raises your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, disability, and premature death. It doesn’t matter how far you can run or how much you deadlift. You need to get up and move often.
Health and fitness are not the same things. While exercise can contribute towards a healthy lifestyle, there is more to it than that. Diet, sleep, stress management, and regular movement are more important than “working out”.
Formal exercise like running and weight are training not enough – or even necessary – to guarantee health. Dan Buettner’s book, The Blue Zones highlights the longest living cultures on earth. It is interesting that the Okinawan centenarians do not swing kettlebells. Nor do the elders of Nicoya run ultramarathons. The 7th Day Adventists of Loma Linda don’t do Crossfit.
Instead, the people the Blue Zones are always moving. Because they lack our “push-button” convenience, they must do many things we take for granted manually. This includes loads of walking to get around.
At the very least, we should infuse our days with regular walking too. Whether you are an Ironman or a couch potato, I’ve got the walking plan to get you moving more regularly while reaping the health benefits that walking has to offer.
But why walking? Why not, say, biking? Walking is part of your human design. It’s the most natural form of gentle physical activity that almost everyone can engage in. It improves your posture, general mobility, and strengthens your core. It improves your balance and proprioception in meaningful ways. It helps with stress, creative thinking and makes you feel happy.
In other words, walking is healing and restorative in ways biking, running and jumping rope aren’t.
Why start with only five minutes a day? Because starting is the hardest part. The bar starts so low as to make failure impossible. You don’t need motivation. You need habit and momentum.
Within 17 weeks you’ll be walking a total of 90 minutes over three walks a day. If you are one of the millions of sedentary Canadians, this is transformative in mere months. No, that’s not a long time to change your life for the better!
If you’d like to start with longer walks, there’s nothing wrong with that either!
Isn’t 90 minutes a lot? No. Really, the more the better. Your body doesn’t care how busy you are. As a business owner, I form my best ideas while walking. I always come back happy, motivated and ready to meet work and life. The busiest of people don’t have time not to do this.
How should you walk? This is a legitimate question. Walk with good posture with your head up and shoulders back. Leave your cell phone alone. Swing your arms from your shoulders, and walk quick as if you have somewhere important to be. Don’t wear high heels.
When should I walk? I’ve split the walking into three sessions throughout the day so you won’t be sedentary for long. You’ll need to find what works for you, but the most logical scenario I can think of is one walk before (or to!) work, one during lunch hour and another after dinner.
Here is the daily program.
Week 1: One 5 minute walk a day.
Week 2: Two 5 minute walks a day.
Week 3: Three 5 minute walks a day.
Week 4: One 10 minute walk, Two 5 minute walks a day.
Week 5: Two 10 minute walks, One 5 minute walk a day.
Week 5: Three 10 minute walks a day.
Week 6: One 15 minute walk, Two 10 minute walks a day.
Week 7: Two 15 minute walks, One 10 minute walk a day.
Week 8: Three 15 minute walks a day.
Week 17: 30, 30, 30
Add 5 minutes to one of your walks every week until you are walking for 30 minutes three times a day. In 17 weeks from your start date, you’ll have built up to 90 minutes of walking a day!
It’s simple. It’s life-changing. It’s life-saving! You’ll go from a couch potato to active.
Now that frequent walking has become a habit, you’ll want to spice it up a little. Here are some ideas:
- Find a new route.
- Walk in nature.
- Listen to a podcast.
- Make walking your main mode of transport.
- Do a gratitude walk. Walk and think of all the things you are grateful for.
- Brainstorm your next business idea while you walk.
- Walk with a friend.
- Park further from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
Perhaps you are new to exercise, and this walking program has inspired you to get fitter. Here are some ways to use your walking time to build even more fitness.
- Go rucking. Load a bag and hit a trail.
- Walk up and down a big hill or stairs in your area.
- Stop every few minutes for calisthenics. (Push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, crawls)
- Add some stretching before and after.
- Turn one of your walks into a run, or add some running intervals to build cardiovascular fitness.
- Walk on grass, sand or uneven terrain.
Always remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Your health and fitness journey can start with that first 5-minute brisk walk. With a progressive approach like this, you’ll find that you can make regular activity part of your life in a very short time.
If you try this program and you’ve enjoyed it, please let me know. Don’t forget to pass it on to your friends!