The “Blah Blah Blah” isn’t a “dis” to walking (I love walking…been doing it since I was 11 months old). It’s just acknowledging that headlines touting walking might be background noise because they’re so familiar.
AND YET: many guys rarely walk. And it IS true that walking is a great component of lifelong fitness and wellness, and so easy to do. So what gives? What are the barriers, and how can you overcome them?
Walking Benefits – Quick Recap
In case you haven’t focused on this yet, here are a dozen benefits of walking, consolidated from sources like the Mayo Clinic, the Arthritis Foundation, Harvard Medical School, and Prevention Magazine. Links to articles are at the end of this post, if you want to learn more.
So Why Don’t You Walk More?
With the above list, let’s dispense with “I had no idea it was so beneficial” as a reason. Let’s also eliminate “I don’t care about those benefits.” You wouldn’t be reading this if you felt that way, man.
Here are reasons that informed, motivated 40+ guys don’t walk, and my two cents on why and how you should overcome these.
⇒ “Walking is not as high-priority within a fitness plan for me as _____.” There are two variations on this one:
1. You intend to do the other activity – e.g. running – but you’re not doing it, and not walking either. This is a “procrastination double-whammy.” If you’re stuck here, just start walking, and running motivation is more likely to follow, dude.
2. You’re already getting exercise and feel you don’t need to also walk (see next section for thoughts here – walking is the world’s best complementary activity).
⇒ “I just don’t have time.” This is a challenge to all fitness activities. But really, with your thriving in mind, I argue:
You CAN make time for walking (e.g. cut down on digital/screen time a bit, or make phone calls you’d make anyway, while walking).
Ask yourself: would you make time, by hook or crook, to help a loved one achieve the benefits listed above? If so, remember YOU are one of your loved ones. Taking care of yourself has to be on the high-priority list!
⇒ “Walking is for wimps, women or ‘old’ men.” You might not have thought this explicitly, but perhaps subconsciously. But one of the great benefits of reaching the OlderBeast threshold of age 40+ is becoming more comfortable in our own skin and less uptight about such “image” concerns.
The old saw says “age is a terrible price to pay for maturity”…but we ARE aging, so we may as well cash in on the enhanced perspective and secure sense-of-self that should come with it. And as for the “women” thing, there are important things we can learn from women.
⇒ “Walking is boring” (a knock on running, too). Sorry for being hard-nosed here, but I think this excuse is an unhealthy symptom of our electronic, 24/7 world and the dependency it creates on rapid-fire external stimulation. To achieve Wellness, let’s “retrain” our brains to slow down the pace sometimes and enjoy interacting with the real world around us.
Here are great things that happened to me on recent walks: high-quality conversations with my wife; “bump into and talk” occasions with neighbors; seeing and appreciating birds (a woodpecker, a hawk, white pelicans); being with my dog; several “a-ha” thoughts on personal and business life. Boring? These types of things can and should be enriching and joy-creating for you, brother.
Additional benefits for the OlderBeast
So, I’m kind of begging you…please walk! On top of the killer benefits listed above (which should be enough to sell snow to Eskimos), here are additional OlderBeast-specific benefits:
1. If you’re just getting started on (or returning to) fitness, walking is a great way to work up to more-intense physical challenges.
2. Walking is a great add-on to your existing fitness regime. It’s a “freebie” that has no drawbacks and provides incremental benefits (loosens up muscles and joints…burns more calories and keeps metabolism up).
3. Walking is more daily movement, and less sitting. Research shows prolonged sitting—even if you exercise at other points in the day—is really bad for you.
4. You can almost always walk, even if injured, sick, in bad weather, traveling…or just tired and feeling “Older” a bit more than “Beast” that day. Yes, some things will prevent even a walk…but not many. Walking should be the fortress you fall back to when life makes other fitness activity not possible or advisable.
So take this friendly challenge: make walking a regular part of your routine for 90 days (even if it’s cold out). Then, see if you want to give it up. I bet you a case of beer you won’t.
“She’ll see this time I wasn’t just talking. Then I’m gonna go out walking.” (Bruce Springsteen, Meeting Across the River)
Additional information on walking: