Let’s face it. More than ever before, we live in an image obsessed society. The pressure we face from our peers, the media and even close friends and family is immense on so many levels. But why do we worry so much about how we look? In 2015, research (World Health Organisation) revealed over 2 BILLION people on earth were overweight. Of that number, 600 MILLION were considered obese. Are you surprised? I’m not. And here’s why.
We lead busy lives more than we ever have. Mortgage payments, long hours in the office, easier accessibility to junk food, credit card debts, the distraction of smart phones and social media take up lots of our time and head space. And research shows that we spend more time sitting in our cars than at any other point in history. We also have a society conditioned to think “if I can’t look amazing than why should I bother?” Well, there are many reasons to bother and make the effort.
Walking home tonight, I felt a little wobbly from a long day at work. I’d walked 9.6 km’s to work, then, foolishly, failed to eat properly. Halfway home, I needed food. Sadly, my only option was McDonalds. Subway was shut. The sushi train was shut and no other options available, I was off to the Golden Arches for a cheeseburger and orange juice. It was ok I guess but I could have murdered a Subway. With 14 km’s in walking up for the day, I bunked the train home and kicked back. I’ll be walking again tomorrow, as I do most days but will pay special attention to eating properly unlike today. All up this week, I plan to walk around 80-90 km’s. I don’t find it boring because I have endless podcasts to churn through, Spotify playlists to enjoy and thoughts about life to ponder.
Over this calendar year, I will walk and run a grand total somewhere in the vicinity of 2,500 km’s. That would equate to walking to Sydney and back then halfway back to Sydney again.
When people see how much walking and running I do on top of regular gym workouts, they often scratch their heads because I don’t look like someone who runs around a footy field on weekends, runs half and full marathons for a hobby or walks to and from work most days during the week. Age is one factor. I’m hitting 40 next month. Genetics are another whilst food is also a determining factor. Those who know me will understand that I love my carbs too much, enjoy my sweet tooth and am in no way a role model for a balanced diet.
What walking will do for you is give you the following benefits.
- Increase your cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness levels
- Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
- Reduce the effects of high blood pressure
- Reduce muscle, joint and bone soreness
- Improve your balance
- Increase muscle strength
- Reduce fat cells
It’s a series of pretty good benefits yes?
I know walking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but you can learn to love it I promise. Sometimes you just need to start out in small increments like a few short walks of 2-3 km’s each week. Maybe take the kids with you? The dog? Your husband or wife? Or perhaps you can use the time to clear your head, plan work and study ideas, catch up on some new music or find a nice lactation to take in the scenery. Sometimes, I even use walking to think about what I would like to write about in this blog or contemplate countries I would enjoy visiting? As with most things, you can make the walking experiences whatever you want them to be.
Most of all, make walking a habit. Rest when you feel tired and have rest days or lower impact walks where needed. If you normally walk say, 6 km’s and only feel like 3 km’s on a particular evening, don’t look at it as a failure for not completing your target. See it as a success. Any exercise is better than none! More than anything, don’t worry about how you look or what others may think. We all come in different shapes and sizes so it’s vitality important that you accept, love and respect your body however the cookie may have crumbled for you.
Speaking of cookies. Just eat the bloody thing! Your regular walks will ensure eating the odd cookie isn’t the end of the world!