fitness

"Please stop judging the way I work out."

Image: supplied.

“You really need to shake up the exercise you do.” I still remember the judgey look my friend’s personal trainer girlfriend wore on her sweaty face after I revealed post-run, that I rarely ran.

That, in fact, my whole fitness routine consisted mainly of walking (with the occasional run thrown in there for good measure). That if I had to choose to commit to just one form of exercise for the rest of my life, I would unflinchingly, unhesitatingly devote myself to a 30 minute walk.

Related: 8 proven ways to become an ‘exercise person’.

Her reaction (and smug fit running pace) wasn’t a shock, it’s something I’ve become used to over the years. Since I could read magazines and watch The Biggest Loser, I’ve gleaned that exercise, and getting full benefit from said exercise, is about variation.

The message is clear: I should be filling the spare minutes in my morning, lunch break or evening achieving an endless amount of fitness escapades. Yoga on Monday! Pump class on Tuesday! CrossFit on Wednesday! Swimming on Thursday! (Post continues after gallery.)

For a while, I obliged. I tried to haul myself to aerobics classes and Bikram Yoga because I thought it would have the best effect on my mind, my fitness and my body. Last year I even trained my butt off, dragging myself bleary-eyed out of bed a couple of times a week to train for a half-marathon.

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Yes, crossing that finish line brought me a great sense of achievement. But did I continue my burpees and mixed cardio after the fact? God no, it wasn’t sustainable for me. I fell swiftly back into the warm, comfortable embrace of my leisurely morning walk.

Edwina only started smiling AFTER the race was over.

I fully understand that being a monogamous stroller who's content to lead a faithful fitness life is not "cool", nor is it in line with the current zeitgeist of working out to rival the likes of bloggers like Kayla Itsines.

A recent Australian study looked at the data of more than 200,000 Australians over the age of 45 and found that the key to living longer is exercise that makes you sweat. Yeah, that rules out most walking varieties. But you know what? Screw that.

Related: “I went in for a haircut, and couldn’t walk for 3 days”.

Shouldn't it be a positive thing that I'm doing regular exercise - even if I'm taking a Groundhog Day approach to it?

A good friend, Kat Mews, who also happens to be a myotherapist and personal trainer (a non-judgey one, thankfully) agrees with me. To the extent that a true exercise-lover can, any way.

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Edwina and her sister, Liz, strolling around the Blue Mountains.

"Look, any exercise is better than none. Just don't expect amazing results if you don't put the hard work in," she explains, and as a woman who's passionate about 548 different types of exercise, I feel she's going fairly easy on me.

"By just walking, you'll be as fit as you need to be to walk the distance you walk - no more. There are some health benefits to regular walking though - lower cholesterol, homestatis insulin sensitivity and more."

Related: The 12 weirdest fitness and diet trends thoughout history.

She's not wrong, walking comes with a huge amount of health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, improved management of high blood pressure and diabetes, improved balance and stronger bones.

While I might be capable of living longer if I get my sweat on, there’s also a lot of evidence to suggest my style of fast walking is sufficient to keep me fit and healthy.

A Japanese study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that walking fast for three minutes, then strolling for three minutes, for half and hour can improve your fitness and health compared with walking at a leisurely pace.

Related: The 11 pieces of fitness advice you thought were true. They aren’t.

The reason everyone is so anti sticking to the same old exercise routine? Apparently our body gets so used to it and "plateaus" - you won't see as great results as you could be keeping your body guessing with different types of workouts.

"Unfortunately what you're doing is not that unusual to what most people do. You'll find if you go to a commercial gym that most people do the same exercise (or more often than not, use the same machine) for the same number of reps, or pace for the same period of time," explains personal trainer Blake Worrall-Thompson.

"The issue with that is that if you're not challenging your body to reach new levels you will plateau out and your results will slow down. The best thing you can do is CHANGE your program regularly and continuously increase the intensity."

Related: “Today I tried ‘plopping’. And it did very good things for my hair.”

I get this, I really do. But I feel healthy and fit the way I am. I eat (fairly) healthily and I don't overdo it on the alcohol front (very often, any way). So rather than fitness-shaming me, people, I'd appreciate it if I could be left to enjoy my beloved stroll.

Do you prefer varied exercise or one good old faithful workout? 

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