The J stands for “Just” and the W for “Walk”, I’ll leave the rest of it to your imagination!
I ran a poll across LinkedIn and Instagram last week to see if peoples’ steps had increased, decreased or stayed the since covid years. During those lockdown years many people would meet up for morning and lunch time walks, nowadays it’s much quieter at the local coffee shop when grabbing a coffee for the walk.
We’re back commuting to work, more people driving, sitting at the desk and for some the routine means the only moving is from one chair to the next. Not only that, we now get our groceries delivered, we can have dinner in an instant without even moving from the couch, other than to open the door for the delivery driver. In the past our parents walked to a chipper, they probably did 1,500+ steps before getting to eat their takeaway! Everything is at our finger tips, it’s easier than ever before and we don’t have to do too much for it. Given that, I hypothesised the majority of peoples’ step counts would have decreased from those covid years to now.
So, how did the results go and why should we just f*cking walk?
Straight up, to live longer, healthier lives. There are many studies that demonstrate a relationship between step count and all-cause mortality, with higher daily step count linked with lower all-cause mortality. I think that’s pretty logical and obvious, the more you walk, the more you move, the more you move generally the healthier you are, the long you tend to live.
Walking contributes so much more to our overall wellbeing than we give it credit for. Our bodies are built to move and let’s face it, as soon as we start going to school they gradually move less and less. Once we start working, let’s assume in our 20s, there’s a further increase in our sitting time and decrease in our moving team. When I coached I’d accumulate 20,000+ steps per day without any conscious effort.
Now, on the days I don’t run it requires conscious effort to hit and clear that 10,000 mark. Why is 10,000 the magical number? It’s a pretty good sign of activity levels and from what I’ve ready 8,000 is a good place to start if your daily count is lower than this. For me, I find that on days I don’t hit around 10,000 steps, I feel a bit agitated, I don’t concentrate very well and because of all of that, my mood can be a little “meh”.
There are a heap of benefits to walking, both mentally and physically. Similar to running, many people will say it’s when they get their best ideas. Stanford researchers have shown that walking boosts creativity. I’m not going to dive into any science of the brain and why this is but from experience, it’s that time to actually switch off, get away from screens and relax. It gives you time to think or even simply let thoughts and ideas come and go.
During Covid years when the majority of people worked from home walking was the one escape outside, a bit of freedom and the easiest form of exercise. As we now return to normality, our walking time is replaced with a 45-60min workout. Likely a HIIT class, spin class or something else of high intensity. These are great and we want to keep our workouts, whatever they may be but it’s also worth remembering that a 60min workout will not negate our day of sitting. We should continue to move, basically just f*cking walk. You’ll actually recover better by walking more, promoting blood flow, lymphatic drainage and more. The question then is, how do we fit those walks and movement into our busy day?
It’s all about accumulating movement. You can split your day into three parts, morning, noon and night. If you can get some form of walk in those three parts you can accumulate quite a few steps.
If you workout in the morning, drop the kids to school and are already tight on time, can you get a 10-15min walk on the way to work or with a coffee first thing? At lunch time, get out for a longer walk after eating. Not only are you accumulating movement but it’s also a great way to regulate your blood glucose levels.
As the Chinese proverb says “After dinner walk 100 steps and you will live 99 years”.
In the evening, can you go for a stroll to decompress, get out with the kids or before you go to bed? Add up these three periods of walking, along with steps around the office (take the stairs) and you can accumulate movement quite easily with a little conscious effort.
Maybe this is as much a note to myself as it is to anyone else. I’ve had a change in routine the past couple of months as my commute has changed. On the days I don’t run I remain more conscious of my movement through the day. The days I do run, I remind myself that doesn’t mean I should just sit still. If walking isn’t possible for you please do replace everything in this with movement and whatever movement you can do. Water is something we cannot live without. Stagnant water is poisonous and can make us very sick. Flowing water helps us to live longer and healthier lives. With that, keep moving.
P.S roughly 40% of people‘s steps decreased, 44% increased and 16% stayed the same. So, my hypothesis wasn‘t exactly correct but I don’t think it was too