Image of a man going for a walk, as the cover for a blog about the benefits of walking.

Walk Before You Run – Benefits of Walking

At the start of this year, I decided (like many) to embrace the whole new year resolution fad and chase some new fitness goals. Nothing too extreme though. I wasn’t about to start training for a marathon, or plan my summit of Mt Everest. No, I just wanted to get my legs moving, lose a little weight around the waist, and put some flexibility back in my ageing muscles. So I dug out my (overworn, musty) shoes, stretched far less than I should have, and hit the pavement. And it felt good. I found my breathing, found a rhythm, and found some joy in doing something for myself.


I felt a twinge in my right ankle.

After trying to run through it, I ended my exercise session and decided I’d try again tomorrow. But the next day my ankle felt worse, specifically my achilles. To say I was gutted is an understatement. This is an injury I’d had before, and I knew how many weeks of rehab it took to get it right.

After taking the week to rest, but still very much motivated to stay active, I became something I never thought I would. Something I thought was only for the elderly, or people with far too much free time on their hands.

Yes, I became a walker. A guy who walks. A slow-paced trudger, left in the dust of those far more physically capable. Was I happy about it? Nope. But did I keep at it anyway? You bet. Day after day, week after week. Even after my ankle had fully recovered.

And something crazy happened.

I started to enjoy it. Started to look forward to it. Heck, I set an alarm for 6am every morning just so I could get my walk in before going to work. Something that only came about because of an injury had now become one of the best parts of the day.

What was it about walking that was so good? Why had I become a convert to this slower, more relaxed way of life? Here are some of the biggest benefits I discovered by regularly walking:

  • My fitness improved. Sure, it took longer to reach some of my fitness goals, but my breathing improved, I lost weight in a healthy, measured way, and my body now moves far better than it had before I started.
  • It’s low impact. The trouble I found with running on footpaths, and which was directly evidenced by my ankle injury, was that the constant impact on concrete sends some gnarly shocks up through your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back. With walking, that impact is massively reduced, so you can go for longer with far less stress.
  • It gives you time to think. Now I’m no zen master, I don’t meditate or practice mindfulness (although it’s something I’m exploring now), but going for a walk and staying away from screens gave me some major mental freedom. Over the course of my 45-60 minute walks, I’d just let my mind wander (while staying aware of my surroundings). In doing so, I was able to mull over the previous day’s problems, and prepare for the day ahead.
  • I discovered more energy. Though a less strenuous form of exercise, walking still got my heart rate going and got my body moving, which woke me up and made me feel more energised than a morning coffee.

These are just a few of the major benefits I’ve discovered by becoming a regular walker, and I’m sure there are others that I haven’t become aware of yet. The best part though? It’s the easiest form of fitness to start. Recovering from an injury? Go for a walk. Not a fan of gyms? Go for a walk. The idea of running seem daunting or impossible? Go for a walk. Need to clear your head and get away from your screen(s)? You guessed it.

Go for a walk. You won’t regret it!

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