Join us for a 5-day challenge to walk 10 minutes each day
There’s something to be said for keeping things simple. Walking really is one of the simplest and best exercises there is. Walking is free, it doesn’t require any equipment or special skill, and you can do it almost anywhere. Plus it just feels good to get up, stretch your legs, and get some sunshine and fresh air.
But enjoyable as walking is, most of us are busy. It’s not always on our minds that we should take a break to go walk. The good news is, any amount of walking you do — no matter how small — will benefit you.
That’s why every year we host a 5-day Walking Challenge to walk for 10 minutes each day. We encourage you to try this out on your own any time!
Can a few minutes of walking actually make a difference? YES!
There are so many reasons why walking is a great exercise. It benefits your overall physical and emotional health, including your heart, lungs, circulatory system, bones, muscles, joints, and even your brain.
Here are a few other benefits you might not know.
Helps reduce back pain. Prolonged sitting can be a major cause of back pain. Studies have shown that regularly walking reduces lower back pain and improves quality of life.
Improves creativity and thinking. Taking a walking break during your workday may be one of the most productive things you can do. One study found that walking increased creativity by 60%. It can also help you stay focused on a task and solve problems more efficiently (Harvard).
Quickly reduces stress and anxiety. A 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout, suggest psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression. Studies demonstrate that a brisk walk or other simple activity can deliver several hours of relief, similar to taking an aspirin for a headache. (Anxiety & Depression Association of America)
You’ll sleep better. Research has found that people who increase the time they spend walking each day, sleep better at night.
The sunlight helps your body make vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important nutrient for maintaining healthy bones and preventing certain diseases. Vitamin D produced in the skin may last at least twice as long in the blood compared with ingested vitamin D (source).
It’s doable. An hour workout can be tough to schedule for many. But no matter how busy you are, you can likely spare five or 10 minutes at some point in your day. In fact, the busiest days are when we probably need a walking break the most.
Helps you form a good habit. That’s a big benefit of doing a multi-day challenge. Plus, once you get out there, chances are you’ll want to walk longer than 10 minutes — giving you even more benefit. And, hopefully, you’ll enjoy your first five days so much that you’ll keep on walking after the challenge.
As with any exercise, if you have risk factors be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new program to ensure that it’s appropriate for you.
Tips for doing the Walking Challenge
- Set a regular time to walk. Making it a scheduled part of your day makes a big difference in helping form a habit you will stick with. Create an alarm or alert in your smartphone calendar to remind you.
- Drink water before, during and after exercise – especially if the weather is hot or humid.
- Wear supportive, comfortable athletic shoes.
- Go at your own pace. The goal of this challenge is just to walk each day. It can be as slow or fast as you like.
- ANY amount of time you do counts, even it’s only a few minutes. Do whatever you can do.
- If the weather is bad, no need to skip a day. Walk around your home, an indoor mall or gym, or do a video workout instead (you’ll still be getting steps in!)
- Print out the Walking Challenge graphic below. Mark each day that you walk, and how many minutes. Celebrate your accomplishment!
READ: How I walked off 60 pounds — and you can, too
Ways to keep it fun and interesting
- Set a playlist of your favorite tunes to walk to. But for safety, be sure you can always still hear your surroundings.
- Listen to a podcast or audio book.
- Walk with a friend or family member.
- Call someone and catch up while you’re walking.
- Walk your dog.
- Find new places to go. I like walking in my neighborhood, but I also enjoy a change of scenery by taking a short drive and walking downtown or in other neighborhoods.
- Explore parks and trails. In fact, Friday, April 22 is Earth Day — a perfect day to walk on a scenic trail. Find lots of ideas for places to go in North Carolina here on the blog.
Receive walking challenge reminders and encouragement.
Be sure to follow @BlueCrossNC and me at @MRhealthyliving on Twitter or Instagram for helpful tips on each day of the Walking Challenge.
And you know what they say: “Pics or it didn’t happen!” Inspire others by posting a selfie or scenery pic from your walk each day. Use the hashtag #walkingchallenge so we can find your post.
I’ll be doing the Walking Challenge along with you, and look forward to connecting with you on social media to cheer you on!