Walking is such a great form of exercise!!! Whenever I get out to take a stroll, I always feel so much better afterwards.
I used to do a lot of running. In the past, I even ran two marathons, and around 5 half-marathons. (NOT for speed- JUST TO FINISH!) I don’t know how many other shorter races I’ve run, but it is too many to count!… I enjoyed my running days, but I do not miss how my joints used to feel with it….
At some point through the years, I transitioned over to regular elliptical training for my cardio workouts. I like it because it is convenient, (I have one at home,) and as I stated, my joints feel “happier” with physical activities with less impact. Yes, I still “mix it up” for cross-training too. This is why also like to do some spin classes, (thank you to my new favorite place to spin, RIDE Oakland,) and why I LOVE leisurely walking! I especially love walking if it can be added as a “bonus” form of exercise during my day! Of course this cross-training is in addition to my Pilates practice and strength training, which is super important for function. (Do you want to know more about my business, P.ilaT.es- Physical Therapy & Pilates? Check the link out!)
Walking is great if it is not too hot outside, because often you don’t even have to put on exercise clothes, so this is a nice plus! Not everyone likes to be sweaty everyday! When I walk, I like to enjoy it, people watch, and sort through my thoughts. I think of it as multitasking!!!! (Ha ha!) But seriously, this is why this form of exercise is so beneficial. It is a safe, non-stressful way to get a very gentle cardiovascular form of exercise, and if you walk for a while, it can burn a lot of calories! I get a nice endorphin rush when I finish a brisk 45 min walk! So, it is a good exercise for your heart, your sense of well-being, AND your waistline! For people who are not gym-rats, it is a nice, cost-effective form of exercise, and you can do it almost anywhere!
Incorporating Simple Stretches, Mobility & Stability with Your Walking Regimen
For maximum benefit, it is good to compliment a gentle walking program with stretches and a core exercise regimen.
I found a great post by the American Heart Association that gives a nice list of stretches that can be performed before or after walking. All of these should be completely comfortable to perform. Please take their advice and consult with your healthcare professional to select exercises appropriate for your body.
If you are lucky to have a foam roller at home that you use, this is a great tool to loosen up your body before or after walking. Check out my prior post on 3 Basic Foam Roller Exercises For Myofascial Release.
Lastly, one should incorporate core strength and optimal posture with walking, and throughout the day. Optimally one would find a separate time for a core strength program, and then perhaps perform a few key exercises prior to walking.
While walking, find your optimal posture, and then engage your deep abdominals. You will get a much better workout in and it will help to protect your strong body! If you have never tried to engage your deep transverse abdominis muscle, I touch on how to activate it (while incorporating it into another exercise) in my first blog post, the Benefits of the Bridge Exercise With a Pilates Perspective. Check it out if you’d like to learn more about this.
Lastly, there are a multitude of Pilates specific exercises that are great compliments to walking. If you’d like to learn a Pilates program, I love to introduce people to this amazing method giving them a personalized and unique regimen for their body’s needs. Once people learn Pilates, many people can’t stop! It really helps improve a person’s posture and build core strength, benefiting them in all aspects of their lives.
Enjoying Walking for Exercise in Oakland
Where are my favorite spots to walk? Living in Oakland, CA, there are so many options! One of my FAVORITE “all time” places to walk is around Lake Merritt. It is a little bit over 3 miles all the way around, so usually it takes between 45 minutes to an hour to go around, depending on the speed. But you don’t even have to walk the entire way, you can just pick your favorite section! You can opt to stroll in a leisurely way, sit down on a bench, listen to the various music that is often being played, or if you want to participate in a drum circle, you can do that too! There are always birds enjoying the lake, people walking their dogs, and you hear and see a lot of laughing, chatting, dancing, exercising, and kids having fun on the playgrounds. Many times there are people rowing or sailing about the lake too! Looking at the water on the lake gives me a great sense of well-being, especially when I see the lovely reflections on it. Lake Merritt is truly a happy spot here in Oakland for so many people!
My favorite time to walk around Lake Merritt is when the sun is going down, and the day is cooling off. The sky turns its many various shades of “beautiful,” and the skyline looks stunning. The lights that run around the lake also turn on, and you get a sense of relaxation at the end of the day. If you wanted to “top the day off,” you could make a pit stop to have a glass of wine with some friends out on that little pier on its edge at the Lake Chalet! Of course, there are many other amazing little restaurant spots close by… (It depends on the type of ambiance you are looking for that day!) But this is always a nice reward to end a day that may have been stressful, or even if your day had been a wonderful one!
But Oakland has many other great areas to walk too- not just Lake Merritt- but maybe this would be an idea for another post! The 10 most pleasurable places to walk in Oakland! YES!!!…I do prefer to change the scenery when I walk from time to time to keep it interesting! (Look for this post from me in the near future!)
The best places do not ALWAYS have to be set up for regular fitness-type of walking! For instance, I LOVE to walk around the cute shops and restaurants of the Temescal Business District during lunch, or when I have a small break in the schedule. The best way to get some “extra” short walks in during your day is to take a quick walk to somewhere you have some errands to do!
Finding an Enjoyable Place to Walk in Your Area
If you don’t live here in Oakland, take a moment to think about some nice spots around you! If you think about it, especially if you get creative, there are so many interesting places to go, people to watch, and things to see! Make sure you fit in some ENJOYABLE workouts such as walking into your schedule.
In closing, this is my message to you: If you are not an “exerciser,” find a form of gentle exercise that does not always FEEL like you are working hard! Your body will thank you. Walking is a nice gentle form of exercise that can accomplish this quite well. It has so many benefits, not just those that are good physically for your body! Enjoy it.
As always, be good to yourself! Stand tall and stay strong!
Thanks for reading!
Would you like to learn more about Dr. Magda Boulay, DPT, a physical therapist and Pilates instructor and her practice, P.ilaT.es-Physical Therapy & Pilates, in Oakland, CA to see how she can help you? Click on this link to sign up for a free 15-minute discovery phone call to see if P.ilaT.es is the right fit to address your needs!
PLEASE NOTE! This blog post is meant for educational and instructional purposes only. This exercise is a wellness exercise only, and it is not medical advice. This post is not a substitute for professional medical consult, evaluation, & or treatment. If you have a current injury or condition, please consult in person with a licensed medical professional before attempting or starting this, or any other exercise program.