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The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, which is why I never worry about having an extra slice of pie or missing a training day here and there to be with family and friends I haven’t seen all year. But I also know it can be difficult for some to get back into a routine after a few weeks of sipping eggnog and roasting chestnuts on an open fire.
Luckily, we’ve created an easy and home gym equipment-free way to help ease you back into a healthy lifestyle and jumpstart any 2023 fitness goals.
For the month of January, we’ll be hosting a community-oriented 31-day walking challenge. While it might sound a bit simplistic on the surface, walking is one of the most efficient ways to keep your body and mind sharp. It’s also one of the easiest ways to stay fit, even if you’re already hitting the gym on a regular basis.
“Everybody’s got 10 minutes to go out there and take a walk, and that’s all that it really takes. And it’s going to have a compounding factor,” strength coach Jesse Burdick said on an episode of the Mark Bell’s Power Project podcast. “If you’re outside, getting a little bit of sun, breathing fresh air…it just has a compounding effect on your mood, psychologically, it keeps you further moving things along.”
All you need to do is follow our challenge, which will get progressively harder as the month goes on (but not by much). We’ll also give you tips on how to get started and stay on track, and since the whole Garage Gym Reviews community will be doing it so you’ll have countless accountability buddies.
Join GGR’s New Year’s Walking Challenge
For this challenge you’ll be following the chart below, which details how long you should walk, and on what days. Consistency is key here.
Although the walks will get a little more challenging as the month goes on, we designed it so you could continue your other workouts–but you could also just do this on its own if you wanted.
The goal here is to provide a foundation for your fitness journey and put you in a position where you can accomplish any other goals you might have, whether that’s running a mile or to start lifting heavier weights.
Why Did We Pick Walking for a Workout Challenge?
You might be asking yourself, “why walking?” After all, you lift weights so shouldn’t that be enough? While strength training is an important part of any fitness regimen, it may not be enough if you’re not supplementing it with aerobic activity (which you may know as cardio).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the average adult needs at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week to reduce their risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, strokes, and even some cancers. This is in addition to at least two or more days a week of strength training that hits every muscle group (so don’t skip leg day).
We picked walking for many reasons, but just a few include the fact that it’s easy, a safe choice for people with sensitive joints, and doesn’t involve any special equipment. It can be done by those who already make fitness a part of their everyday life, and those who are trying to create new habits.
And for those who already train regularly, walking has been shown to improve muscle endurance and your cardiovascular fitness. In other words, walking every day can help you become a better weightlifter or Crossfittter.
Walking, unlike many other fitness trends, has also never gone out of style. We as humans have been doing it for thousands of years, and 6-in-10 adults today say they walk as a daily form of exercise, or just for fun.
So plan on giving Fido an extra walk during this month (weather permitting). Not only will they enjoy it, but odds are they’ll probably force you to walk a little faster than you would on your own.
Some Unexpected Perks of Getting a Walk in
Need some more motivation to start regular walks? Here are just a few unexpected benefits you can get from the simplest form of exercise.
It Can Improve Your Posture
With people spending more time at a computer or staring down at their phones (like you’re probably doing right now), poor posture has become more common. Walking more frequently can actually help improve that.
Studies have shown that walking can improve the muscles needed to maintain a proper posture. Your joints are more aligned when you’re walking, and by doing it more frequently you strengthen those muscles and make it easier to maintain proper posture. So when you’re walking be sure to stand up straight, keep your eyes forward, chin parallel to the ground, and check to see that your shoulders aren’t hunched.
There are many reasons why you should have good posture, besides getting your mother to stop yelling at you. It leads to easier breathing (your lungs have to work harder when your spine isn’t aligned), less back pain, and even improves your overall mood.
Good posture also leads to good form on moves like the deadlift and squat.
Strengthens Your Immune System
We know walking can help stop the pounds from gathering on your waist, but it can also prevent germs from making you sick.
One study found a brisk 30-minute walk decreased the likelihood of respiratory infection by 43 percent, and those who still got sick had less severe symptoms than those who remained sedentary (which is considered taking less than 5,000 steps a day).
It Can Improve Bone Health
Our bones start to become more brittle starting at age 30, which increases the risk of injury and conditions like osteoporosis. The good news is you can slow that down by simply getting a walk in every day.
Older adults who walk at least one mile every day have higher bone density than those who only walk short distances, according to several studies. It’s also an effective way to keep your legs strong, thereby reducing any injury risk.
You can do more for your bones by including bodyweight exercises during your walk and making sure you make inclines part of your daily routine, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It Improves Your Mental Health
Walking can also make you feel good on the inside, too. A study of thousands of older adults found that those who went on moderate-intensity walks had fewer feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation.
Another study stressed local and national policies should stress walking’s positive effects on mental health.
Tips On How To Get Started
We designed this to be accessible to everyone, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who need encouragement. No worries, that’s what we’re here for.
Track Your Steps
Using a fitness tracker can help you track your progress, and it can also create a fun competition where your only opponent is yourself. For example, if you know you walked a mile in a certain amount of time one day you might be inspired to pick up the pace to try and beat that record.
The increased pace leads to a higher heart rate, which results in better endurance and more calories burned.
RELATED: Best Fitness Watch
Get an Accountability Partner
We’ve all had those days where we wake up and just don’t want to workout (myself included, believe it or not). Having someone who can force you to get up and do the work can be great for those days.
That’s one of the reasons why we made this a community-based challenge. You can feel free to post regularly on our Home Gym Community, where there’s thousands of people ready to cheer you on and motivate you when things get hard.
If you have a physical accountability partner, even better. Talking with someone during your walks actually increases your oxygen consumption (you are using your mouth after all), and that forces your body to work even harder than you would on your own.
An accountability buddy can even be someone you call every day, and it doesn’t have to be the same person. Have a virtual rolodex of people you want to catch up with ready and call them before heading out on your walks.
Listen to Music
Pumping up the jams can pump up your fitness, too. Studies show listening to music can actually make you enjoy your walk more, and lead to improved speed and stride length. Personally, I like to listen to podcasts and audiobooks and my walks, but listen to whatever you like!
Break Your Walking into Smaller Chunks
If 30 minutes of walking seems intimidating at first, or you don’t have that much time on a given day, break it up. You can do three 10-minute walks, or two 15-minute ones. The CDC says you’ll get the same health benefits doing it in parts as you would just one long walk.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s important enough to be repeated. Walking won’t be much fun if your feet are in constant pain the whole time. Picking the right type of shoes can be the difference between completing your walk and having to turn around halfway through.
If you need to do your walks during work, make sure to bring a pair of sneakers with you if your job requires dress shoes. Make sure whatever footwear you pick is also weather-resistant if you live in a place that has a lot of snow or cold weather during January (which is a lot of places).
Have a Backup Plan
Let’s say it’s snowing or -5 degrees outside, and you’re not really feeling like spending much time out in the elements. Find a place in your home where you can still get your steps in. Maybe that means circling your living room a few times, walking on a treadmill, or going up and down the stairs.
Either way, make sure you can get some form of walking in no matter what the weather is.
Bring Your Furry Friend
If you have a dog, odds are you probably already walk a good bit (in fact, dog owners are four times more likely to get the suggested 150 minutes of walking a week than those who don’t have one).
Time to Hit the Roads
In just about every article I write I tell you who might love a product, and who could probably live without it.
This might be the first time I’m recommending something for my entire readership. You could be a CrossFit athlete, or someone who has never stepped foot in a squat rack before, and you can do this challenge.
One other reason I recommend this challenge is because it might encourage you to start walking more. This won’t only be good for your fitness, but it could help you to meet new neighbors, find a new restaurant in your town, or get some more sun during the summer months. Try it out!
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