It’s good advice to try and walk more. The standard walking prescription is 10,000 steps per day. However, you don’t have to do all these steps over the course of a single walk. In fact, it’s often better to clock up your 10,000 steps throughout the day. This leaves you facing several choices regarding when you should walk and how long and how fast your walks should be.
There is no perfect solution to this conundrum. In fact, what might be ideal for one person may not be ideal for another. Like the age-old question of when is the best time to exercise, the answer is – whatever allows you to exercise consistently!
In this article, we’ll examine some of the choices regular walkers are faced with and discuss their advantages and disadvantages so you have the facts you need to make an informed choice. Don’t worry, however, if you aren’t able to follow some of the advice in this article; ultimately, any walk is better than no walk!
Walking first thing in the morning
Walking first thing in the morning, before breakfast, may help you burn fat faster. In the absence of food, your body is more likely to use fat for energy. Although this affect is very small, if you are keen to lose weight faster, it’s worth considering.
In addition, an early morning walk can set you up for the day, help you to wake up, give you energy, and also makes the most of time that is all too easily squandered. And if you miss your morning walk, you still have the rest of the day to catch it up.
On the downside, early morning walks may mean you have to get up earlier than you might otherwise like, and for some, exercising on an empty stomach means low energy levels. If it is dark in the morning, you may need to think carefully about the safety concerns of walking at this time of day.
Walking at lunchtime
Many people spend their lunchbreaks eating (hardly surprising!) at their desks. This means that they don’t really get much of a break from work. Going for a walk at lunchtime means valuable time away from work and is a good opportunity to sneak in some exercise. A lunchtime walk can help re-energize you for the rest of your day and also stops you committing the “crime” of working through your lunch without getting paid!
If you choose to walk during your lunch break, make sure you still find time to eat your lunch – preferably afterward. And if you work in a built up area, try to avoid inhaling lots of noxious traffic fumes by staying on minor roads and away from main highways.
Walking in the evening
Walking after dinner is a nice alternative to vegging out in front of the TV. On average, Westerners watch around four hours of TV per day which is too much to be considered healthy. These same people also complain that they don’t have time to exercise. Oh the irony!
Turn of the magic box and head out for a post-dinner walk instead. It’s the ideal opportunity to catch up with your partner and enjoy some quality time together. If you have a dog, they will undoubtedly enjoy a walk too. Evening walks can also help take your mind off eating – something that TV seldom does.
Evening walks often mean heading out in the dark so it’s important to stick to well-lit areas, dress with visibility in mind, and take sensible precautions ensure that traffic accident risk is kept to a minimum.
Short, fast walks
Fast walks tend to burn more calories than slow walks of the same distance. They also provide the opportunity to get a “quick fix” of exercise when time is against you. A ten-minute walk several times per day can be just as valuable as a long walk.
Many people fail to see the value of short walks and, as a result, miss out on the many benefits that they might otherwise enjoy. Simply hopping off a bus a few stops early and walking the final mile to your destination is a great way to clock up some extra walking during the day. You might even find you arrive at your destination sooner as a result.
Get the most out of short walks by walking with purpose – swing your arms and stride out. That way, you will get even more benefit from any walking opportunity, no matter how short.
Long, slow walks
Long, slow walks can be very restorative. Because the pace is relaxed, such a walk will give rather than take energy from you. Being unhurried, you also have the perfect opportunity to do some thinking and even meditation.
Long walks can also help improve muscular endurance which is the ability of your muscles to produce low amounts of force for an extended period of time.
This type of walk is typically easy which means it’s an attractive prospect for those who prefer less intense workouts. However, if you walk slowly, you’ll need to walk a long way to burn many calories and for some people this isn’t always practical.
Long, easy-paced walks are ideal for sharing with less active members of your family and can be a great way to spend quality time with loved ones.
By selecting from and combining the walks described above, you should be able to choose the right type of walk for your needs. And you don’t have to make the same choice over and over again; while short, fast, morning walks might be best during weekdays, longer, slower, evening walks might be a better choice at weekends. The most important thing is to make sure you walk most if not every day. It’s consistency that is the most important consideration.