Really, if you’re able, there’s no easier or more enjoyable way to get some good exercise than taking a walk. All you need is comfortable, supportive type shoes, the ability to take or make time, a safe place to walk and you can be off.
I prefer to walk outside whenever possible as opposed to walking on an indoor track. However, here in Minnesota sometimes because of inclement weather (read that sub-zero temps, icy surfaces and snow, or very high heat and humidity), I have to depend on the track at our local community center to get my walking fix. I’m here to tell you walking outside is a much better workout and much more interesting.
As for the workout outside being better (i.e., more intense), climbing the hills in my neighborhood, dealing with the weather elements (sometimes WIND – my enemy, heat, rain) and maneuvering on different surfaces (asphalt, concrete, gravel, sand) make a walk outside harder work than on a flat, easy-on-the-feet-and-legs indoor track surface in an air-conditioned/heated building. I can get my heart rate up into a good workout range and feel like I’ve really worked my muscles when I walk outside. Unfortunately, I don’t experience those same feelings when I walk inside. (Don’t get me wrong, I do think walking inside is better than not walking at all…it’s still exercise and you are burning calories).
As for being more interesting to exercise outside, there’s lots to see, hear and enjoy while walking through the neighborhood, in a park, on a beach (one of my favorite venues), or through the woods. Circling the same oval track multiple times in a boring non-interesting building doesn’t create the same excitement. (Well, sometimes it is interesting to watch others at the gym as they go through their routines. People watching – hmm, look what she is wearing; or, look at what he does with that exercise ball – can provide a diversion to the boredom of a track.) Music in my ear buds can also help get me through the routine inside; but, I never wear headphones while walking outside. I think it is important to be aware of traffic – vehicles and other walkers/runners/bikers so as to avoid accidents. I want to be able to hear any impending danger.
While searching for activities to do with my two young grandsons, I came across the idea to go for a walk and involve them in a scavenger hunt-like game. Seems to me anyone of any age could enjoy this idea while walking. It could add some interest to your routine, or even provide the impetus for taking the hike. Make a list of things to look for, smell, or hear on your walk and then see how many items you can check off the list on your trek.
Here are some ideas for your list –
- see or hear a robin or cardinal
- hear an airplane/helicopter
- see a rabbit or squirrel
- see a cat sitting in a window
- find a maple leaf
- hear the sound of a workman’s hammer or chain saw
- dodge a puddle
- see a “hot” car as my grandson would say
- find a heart-shaped rock
- smell dinner cooking aromas emanating from one of the homes you pass
- see a butterfly
- hear children playing
You can create your own list, adapting it to the area in which you are walking. At the very least, it will help you stay in the present moment while you exercise, leaving your cares behind.