Workout Wednesday, Benefits of Leisure Walking, 3-9-16

I live in Boston. Somewhere that seems to get the short stick when it comes to summer every year. It finally gets warm in June or July, then starts to get chilly in September. 3 months? 3 months is all we get for enduring usually a really. crappy. winter. However, this year seems to be a bit different. The winter hasn’t been so bad (knock on wood) it’s been a bit warmer than normal, and today, March 9th its 75 degrees! That’s absolutely incredible. In fact, I’m sitting on my porch writing this right now. 🙂

Naturally I wanted to take my workout outside (and in the shade), as I usually try to in the warmer weather. But I’ve been feeling a bit run down lately, a few aches and pains have been threatening to take over. Instead of doing a strength or metabolic workout, I chose to walk instead.

Some people may argue that ‘that isn’t exercise!’ but I tend to disagree. Now, when I say walking, I’m not talking about the power variety. Not the type where you think of a woman decked out in aerobics gear, bouncing down the street. I’m talking about leisure walking. I’m talking about getting down with nature. Taking time to smell the roses. No, it doesn’t ‘blast calories’ like many workouts claim. It actually burns very few calories. But what you gain from leisure walking on the hormone level, definitely makes up for the lack of calories burned. Lemme ‘splain.

Our bodies create this lovely hormone called Cortisol. It’s both a good and bad thing. It helps to regulate our internal clock (also known as circadian rhythm) by increasing and decreasing production throughout the day. But Cortisol is also called the ‘Stress Hormone’. When we are in a state of stress, that is what is released. Sometimes it’s helpful, like when you need to get away from a robber, or an attacking dog. But when you are constantly in a state of stress, due to work or chronic illness, your Cortisol levels start to rise. This eventually can lead to a whole host of issues, like hormone dysfunction, adrenal fatigue and body fat that won’t budge.

This is where leisure walking can come into play! Engaging in leisure walking regularly can help to significantly lower Cortisol in your body. Especially when done in nature. Leisure walking is probably the easiest, cheapest (it’s free) and quickest way to help your body on a daily basis. Even just 10-15 minutes can make a huge impact. BONUS! If you walk, mid day, outside, you get the added benefit of Vitamin D! Score!

Where many people go wrong is they think that they need to prioritize working out, then nutrition, then other stuff (sleep and stress management). When in reality it really should be other stuff (sleep and stress) and nutrition then working out. The first three have the biggest effect on your hormones, and if those aren’t in check, then nothing else will be either. Stay tuned for more on these topics!

And as always, if you want more specific information, sign up here for my weekly email 🙂 bit.ly/LissMS