I’ve tried it all to get fit. Signing up to an expensive gym? Check. An intensive style personal boot camp? Check. Anti-gravity yoga? Check (although that didn’t last long.) Giving up and doing nothing? Double check.
It wasn’t until I was having a chat with a friend recently that I realised staying fit and healthy didn’t actually have to be so hard, time consuming or expensive.
She’d given up those traditional forms of exercise for “incidental” exercise – incorporating ways of working out into her routine that actually didn’t feel like working out. Rather than setting aside a set time once a day, it’s all about getting moving during your regular daily activities, often done in little bite-size chunks.
Gym? No thanks. Image: Giphy.
It's effective too, because all those little bits? They add up, often amounting to more than say one or two gym sessions a week.
One of the standout activities she mentioned? Simply walking.
Now that I could do.
Before you go "Pfft! That hardly counts," hear me out.
Several studies have looked into the benefits of walking over more intensive forms of exercise and found some surprising results.
Obviously we're talking a bit more than three times daily trips to the kitchen fridge - but not much more.
Just 30 minutes of walking a day can strengthen bones, increase cardiovascular fitness, boost muscle power and endurance and reduce excess body fat. Oh, and it can also help reduce your risk of developing conditions like type two diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and some cancers.
It's also free and low impact - so anyone can do it.
Even better? This is as equally child-, pet- and company-friendly as it is to being a solo activity.
Here are four easy ways to incorporate walking into the busiest of lifestyles.
1. Walk and talk.
If the weather is nice, ditch the usual cafe catch up and opt to walk and talk with your friend instead. When you've got lots to catch up on, you'd be surprised how quickly you forget you're doing anything remotely close to exercise.
Got a small child in tow? Make it an adventure - and you'll get extra benefits from pushing the pram too.
"Ditch the usual cafe catch up and opt to walk and talk with your friend instead." Image: iStock.
2. Park life.
Nature has its own gym - literally on your backdoor step - the local park. It's nowhere near as intimidating as the actual gym can be and it's got endless uses too.
A few laps around at a pace that suits you is a great way to get your daily tick of exercise with the added bonus of fresh air from outdoors rather than the sweaty odour of other gym-goers.
Get distracted or not interesting enough? Use the opportunity to listen to an audio book, your favourite album or discover a new podcast. You'll quickly forget about the walking component, I promise.
3. Walking errands.
Run out of milk/bread/emergency chocolate? Instead of grabbing the car keys and doing it in a hurry, make it a more leisurely task. If your local shop is in reasonable walking distance, do that instead. In fact, you can try it wherever you're planning to go.
Walkscore is a great resource that allows you to see how walkable your local area is, with some great tips about places to visit that involve stairs or other elements to boost your incidental exercise.
It's not just the benefits you experience. Experts have identified walking as the "simplest, most cost-efficient way to improve a city's economic and environmental viability," and by taking your car off the road, you're helping the environment too.
Why not bring the dog too? Image: Pexels.
4. Just go.
You don't need a final destination - just go for a wander and you'll be amazed at what you might discover within walking distance. A new beautiful park or a cute cafe with great coffee AND an accidental workout? Now that's a win-win.
Since starting, I've noticed others keen to join me and try the same thing. And while it makes you look good opting to walk places, it has an even better impact on your children too - setting a good example for them without even realising.
Come on, join the movement.
How do you walk your city?
This post was written thanks to our brand partner Join the Movement. Here's more from them:
Join the Movement is a Queensland Government social media campaign that is designed to inspire and encourage women and girls to participate in regular sport and active recreation. It is a grassroots campaign, made by Queensland women, featuring real Queensland women, for Queensland women. Join the Movement recognises that lifelong participation in active pursuits can bring a number of benefits including, health, happiness and a sense of achievement.