One trend I am seeing with almost all of my clients is this need to work out and work out HARD. I am talking 5-7 days a week of high intensity training, cardio and lifting weights. The longer the better. When a client tells me how much they are working out I always ask where they got the idea they need to be working out so hard for so many days of the week. The answer, you guessed it. Influencers and social media.
Well ladies and gents, we are all missing this one key element to sustainable health: walking! I read this ridiculous book called “Why French Women Don’t Get Fat,” (don’t judge it was on the $1 table at the book store down the street), but as ridiculous as it was it actually provided a lot of valuable information and insight into why America as a whole is suffering. Not only is it our poor diets, toxic environments and stress, but our lack of movement or for some TOO MUCH movement.
All that high intensity movement is actually stressing us the F out. When we do all this HIIT our bodies naturally release cortisol (the stress hormone). Generally, this increase isn’t a bad thing short term but if you’re doing intense workouts more than once a day and/or a few days a week, you’re cortisol levels will stay elevated. Constantly elevated cortisol can cause diabetes, weight gain, osteoporosis, infertility and overall just make you feel like garbage. When these levels are constantly high it can increase hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and decrease progesterone which in turn can cause disruptions in the menstrual cycle, acne, irregular periods, low bone density and lack of energy.
Not only do the French have a great relationship with food and movement but you will very rarely see a French woman tearing it up at the gym everyday but rather their daily movement is walking!
Why is walking so important?
Walking uses stored fat for fuel and in my opinion walking is the most critical aspect for fat loss. Walking is one of the only form of exercise that actually controls cortisol levels. It can literally protect your hormones. The best part is we are built to walk, it is something we can do all day everyday. I hate to say it, but we are not built to run. The French have it right, people that walk everyday will most likely be leaner and healthier.
Here are some simple tips to get more walking in during the day:
- Walk to run an errand, it’s more enjoyable when you have a destination.
- Schedule walking meetings with co-workers rather than sitting down in the office.
- Get a walking partner a few days a week.
- Change your routine to avoid boredom, explore new areas!
- Meet friends for a walk, rather than a coffee or better yet, both!
- For competitors: buy a pedometer to track your walking and make it a competition with yourself to walk more each day.
- Park far away from your destination.
- Start listening to podcasts.
I know right, these all seem pretty simple. But unfortunately, the majority of the population wakes up, drives to work, sits in their car, sits at work for 8-9 hours, maybe hits the gym for an hour, then sits in the car on the way home, then comes home only to sit again for the rest of the night before going to bed. This is a sad reality.
Walking a few times a day can far outweigh that hour long gym session and guess what, IT’S FREE!
Tip: Try doing a short 10 minute HIIT workout and then go for a walk afterwards to help balance your hormones and bring your cortisol down.
One of my favorite walks is a mix of walking and strength training. Walk for 10 minutes, 50 lunges, 50 squats, walk for 10 minutes, 25 jumping jacks, find a bench and do 20 push ups and tricep dips. Repeat. You get the idea.
This is another great way to keep our cortisol down but still get in some strength movements without stressing our bodies out! All we really need is our body weight to achieve long-term sustainable health.
Put in those headphones, listen to some music or a podcast and get your booty walking.