Because walking is actually the best exercise

Search walking for health on Google and you will get 1.7 billion results. Why? Because it’s something you can do seamlessly anytime, anywhere, using just your two legs, you don’t need an expensive gym membership, and the benefits are great.

We often believe that the best workout should be intense and strenuous, explains Jennifer Walsh, founder of Walk with Walsh. Our bodies and brains thrive when we activate our senses with a brisk walk outside.

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Just 11 minutes of walking a day can add years to your life, attests to the National Institutes of Health. A study published in JAMA of more than 2,000 adults over 11 years showed that walking about 7,000 steps a day reduced the risk of death by 50% to 70%.

But what if you can only make it on the weekends? That works too. A 2023 JAMA study shows that taking a long walk (about 8,000 steps, or about 4 miles) just one or two days a week helped study participants achieve cardiovascular benefits and lower mortality rates that were almost as strong as those who traveled nearly the same distance every day.

Because walking is the best exercise

The benefits of walking are great: Taking a walk regularly can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. It’s good weight-bearing exercise that doubles as a cardio workout, notes Luke Pickett, a physical therapist who has served as the head physiotherapist for the Australian Football League, Australian Institute of Sport, Australian sports teams, as well as director of Melbourne Physio. Clinic. Furthermore, [walking helps] mothers by exercising the postural muscles of the spine which will help prevent the lower, middle and upper back pains, along with the neck, that mothers experience.

But walking can be equally beneficial to your mental and physical health. This low-impact activity can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and boost energy levels, especially for new moms who need a much-needed break from the demands of caring for a newborn, she explains. New York City psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, PsyD.

And we already know that self-care and the mind-body connection are important for maintaining our sanity as moms. Our brains are like computers, Walsh says. When we have too many tabs open, our batteries run out. A walk in nature is the perfect way to observe the beauty around us and calm the mind.

If you don’t have the freedom to take a break from the kids with a walk on your own, the best thing about going for a walk is that in many cases your little ones can go along with you. Walking with a stroller also provides time to bond with your baby and can help establish a healthy routine for both mom and baby, explains Dr. Ludwig. With older children, go on a nature walk together and find out what natural treasures you can find.

Crystal First credits the daily walk with helping quell her postpartum depression. Being outside and having the sun shining on me and moving with purpose instead of feeling stuck at home has really helped me not feel depressed, says the stay-at-home mom of four in upstate New York. It also provided the daily exercise that I felt I couldn’t do at home.

What to know before walking

If you’ve decided it’s time to incorporate walking into your daily routine, the Mayo Clinic has a few tips before you begin:

  • Track your course: If you can go out on a bike path or walk around the block, choose a safe path without uneven ground or potholes. If the weather is bad, opt for a mall that offers specific times for day-trippers.

  • Prepare your body: Warm up before walking and cool down and stretch afterwards, to avoid sore or tight muscles (especially if your activity level was limited before).

  • Set realistic goals: 30 minutes a day is fine, or you can break it up into smaller increments, like 10 minutes at a time.

  • Get the right equipment: Good athletic shoes with adequate arch support, loose, comfortable clothing in moisture-wicking fabrics and sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are all important if you’re walking outdoors. You could also opt for a pedometer or some sort of fitness tracker so you can track your steps and keep yourself accountable.

Our favorite walking must-haves

Need more motivation to help you get up and go? We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite products to help you get the most out of your walk. Now go ahead, go hiking!

Bala Bracelets Sea

Bala Bracelets Sea

Bala

$55

Bala bracelets add a constant but comfortable level of resistance to your walk. They can be worn on the wrists or ankles, come in many colors, and don’t require much storage space.

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pink lululemon pouch

pink lululemon pouch

Lululemon

$38

We can thank the trendy athleisure brand for bringing the fanny pack back into the limelight. It’s the perfect hands-free essential for your walk, and you can stash your keys, credit card, sunscreen, or anything else you need!

SHOP

Jetti package

Jetti package

Jetty

$84

Want to up the ante and get more out of your walk? Weighted walking increases calorie burn, improves posture, and activates the core (as a bonus, you’ll help get those abs popping). This new take on a weighted vest slips like a backpack, and you can easily adjust the weight by adding or removing panels.

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Brooks Trace 2

Brooks Trace 2

Brooks

$100

Brooks sneakers are designed specifically for walking and running, with dynamic cushioning that responds to your stride and minimizes the impact of each step.

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Corkcicle Serie A Sports canteen

Corkcicle Serie A Sports canteen

Corchicolo

$42.95

Don’t forget to hydrate! This Corksicle flask keeps liquids cold for up to 25 hours, and you even get a hands-free wrap for storage.

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ESAS Hamam deodorant spray

ESAS Hamam deodorant spray

ESA

$25

The last thing you want from your daily walk is to end up stinky. This handy bag-sized Hamam spray ensures that you work with your body’s natural chemistry to neutralize odors for 24 hours. As a new mom, I’ve found that most deodorants don’t work for postpartum body odor, and I didn’t want any of the synthetic endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in so many drugstore brands near my underarms where they can leach into breast tissue, says Esas co-founder Seda Bilginer. That’s why we created Hamam Body Splash.

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RayBan Wayfarer

RayBan Wayfarer

Rayban

$213

Don’t forget to protect those voyeurs! Ray Bans are a staple and this classic style, in particular, offers a secure and comfortable fit while blocking out 85% of visible light.

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iTouch wearable devices

iTouch wearable devices

iTouch wearable devices

$115

Celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels swears by this iTouch fitness tracking device that not only looks stylish and tracks steps, calories, sleep and heart rate, but also comes with a 90-day subscription to the fitness app Michaels.

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Lalabu simple wrap

Lalabu simple wrap

Lalabu

$139.95

If you feel like bonding with your baby, strap them to your chest for your leisurely stroll with one of these soft and comfy plain wraps without all the stiffness and bulk (and potential sweatiness) of a traditional baby carrier.

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Love and Fit Strappy Back 2.0 Nursing Sports Bra

Love and Fit Strappy Back 2.0 Nursing Sports Bra

Love and fit

$59

As author of The Bra Book and someone who has helped millions of women with bras, proper support is more important than ever during any type of physical activity. Studies have shown that even something low-impact, like walking, can cause breast tissue to move up and down, which can contribute to pain and/or sagging down the line. I chose this sports bra from Love & Fit because it is not only adjustable, but also suitable for nursing and pumping.

SHOP

A note on walking for wellness

The National Institutes of Health reports that working moms in particular are at a high risk of not meeting recommended levels of exercise, jeopardizing their overall health and well-being. Walking is a low-lifting way to reach your fitness goals and reap big rewards.

Another tip? There is power (and accountability) in numbers. You can join a local moms group or just get a group of your favorite local moms together and plan a time and meeting point to walk around each day.

Incorporate walking into your life today and reap the rewards for years to come. Your mental and physical health will thank you for it.

#walking #exercise
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