Today I want to share with you my love for walking. That’s right! I love brisk walking. My love affair with walking began while in my teens when I was living in Mumbai. No school buses that dropped us at our doorstep; my brother and I had to do a rigorous climb of over 150 steps each way and a walk of nearly a kilometre from school to the bus stop and back every day. College entailed some steep walking as well. So, walking on the pavement and the roads at a pretty brisk pace was quite normal for me.
This habit of mine held me in great stead when we went to the US. I continued walking to every place. I walked until the day before I went into labor for the first time. After my son was born, and we came to India, my hubby and I would lug his stroller and walk. A journey across cities, and we were in Bangalore with two kids. And, we continue to walk, every single day… well almost. I have never had a nanny, and I cook myself. In all the craziness of raising a family and a job, I did find time to keep walking. It was cathartic. It was fun. It was rejuvenating.
I have never been to a gym. Apart from some strength training and yoga off and on, walking sustains me. If I don’t walk a particular day, I feel I am missing something. Building pace over the years, I can now walk almost 5 kilometres in around 50 minutes. I can’t begin to tell you the benefits that I’ve experienced: better fitness, stamina, energy and flexibility among them. Walking helps lift my mood and also works well when I am tired. You heard right; sometimes tiredness, boredom and even pain go away after I go for my walk. Even after two kids, I have maintained a good body weight and shape. I weigh 54 kgs at 5’4”, which is just 3 kgs more than what I weighed 12 years back when I got married. I feel and look younger and healthier.
Some handy tips to stay regular:
Find a partner: My hubby and I have been at it for years now. I roped him in and got him hooked. Now, if one of us wishes to back out, the other one eggs her/him on. On the days when we are not together, music suffices.
Walk in a park: I despise a treadmill. It is monotonous and boring to me. I like to walk in the open where I can wave out to people, watch kids play, see greenery, flowers, and the change of seasons. The walk ends up being a stimulating experience.
Do it at the same time everyday: If you demarcate a time every day, then you will begin to feel the urge to go out and walk and small excuses will not come in the way. And, if you can’t do it for 5 days a week, you will not get all its benefits. Just like you eat every day; it is important to do some physical activity most days.
Keep at it: Don’t expect miracles. Don’t be obsessed with weight loss. Do it in a sustained manner and aim to do it long term. You will notice subtle changes in your body, energy, and fitness as you go along. The benefits will happen slowly with time.
Keep track: Walking is not strolling. Brisk walking entails keeping track of the time and distance that you walk every day. Your pace must be sustained and with time your pace will pick up. You should be able to carry on a conversation without feeling breathless with brisk walking. But, you will feel your body sweat. Any exercise is meant to make you work. And, walking together does not mean that you take breaks to chat. A quick hello should be fine. Even better, take the person along with you. Remember once your body is warmed up, you don’t want it becoming cold by stopping.
Don’t walk on an empty stomach ever: Eat something: a banana, a handful of nuts, a glass of milk, or a couple of slices of bread half an hour before you set out. And, hydrate yourself adequately.
The key to walking or any exercise lies in the regularity of it. Most people do intensive workouts for six months or a year solely with the aim of losing weight. Then they go off it and pile all the weight back on. Regularity is crucial. Fitness and health are a way of life. They must be your goals for a lifetime; not because you want a certain shape or size for now. That is where most women are losing the battle. Eating sensibly, nourishing your body, and giving it enough exercise are the only ways of keeping your body – that marvelous piece of machinery, well-oiled and in perfect condition.
Walking is gentler on your joints, works well for the young and the old, and is really amongst the easiest exercises to do. Get a pair of good walking shoes and go. You don’t need trainers, classes or expensive equipment.
Staying fit is something that you owe to your body. Don’t starve it! Don’t punish it! Nourish it and lovingly give it what it requires just like you would to your own child. And, it will pay you back with many years of health.
Have I inspired you enough to choose the path of health and fitness… for life?