Benefits of Walking vs Running
First the back story…
When I was almost 40 years old, not that long ago, Kent had taken up running and really liked it, and one day I overheard him saying to someone, “No, I don’t think we’ll ever get Kel out there running...” He wasn't putting me down, he just knew I'd never taken the least bit of interest in running and had no reason to believe it would become my thing.
Well, I'm kind of stubborn and took that as a private challenge.
I thought I would die the first time I ran a whole block without stopping — NOT kidding. I figured maybe I couldn‘t run, or that my lungs weren't up for that endurance thing, but if all those other people could do it, I could too, right? So I kept with it and learned a few tips to make it easier: Click here to see these 4 Tiny Tips for Beginning Runners. Eventually I even ran a couple 5K races, and WOW was I slow — but whatever, I was just happy I could do it at all. Click here to read about my first 5K run or click here to read about my unimpressive 2nd 5K run, which Kent ran with me.
So I kept at it off and on, for maybe a year or two, and for a few years after that I did a lot of run-walking or rollerblading on the trail. I still do those sometimes along with occasional uphill sprints just because I'd heard that it's good to mix it up and do something a little different here and there to keep your body guessing.
But when my knee started hurting pretty regularly if I'd run, I started to question it all together.
Over time Kent had switched from running to mountain or road biking, because he got to a point I never did — he loved it so much that he'd want to go further and further distances, but he began having some injuries, too.
It seemed like every serious runner I knew of had dealt with various injuries at one time or another and I wondered, can that really be good for our bodies?
Also more and more articles were coming out about how much better walking is for us anyway. Here are a few about the benefits of walking vs running:
- 4 Reasons Walking is Actually a Hardcore Exercise Move
- Or if you want to still run some, did you know that MANY runners include walking as part of their routine and that it's actually better for you?
- Or that running only 10 minutes a day is a good thing?
- Or that people do walk-runs for marathons all of the time? I had no idea about this until I was on the shuttle to my hotel in California for the WAPF conference and overhead some runners who were there for the Disney races. You just have to be sure you're walking fast enough to finish in the allotted time, but other than that, it's no big deal — apparently if you walk a lot of it or even all of it, it still counts!
So now, besides the occasional half- or one-mile run, just to prove that I still can do it (even if I'll usually have screaming muscles the next day), I mostly walk, and love it much more than I ever loved running!
That's the back-story, so now…
How Walking My Peace Back
If you're one of my longtime readers, you may have noticed that I haven't been posting as regularly as I used to. I've always said that as a business owner, I'm harder on myself than any boss would ever be. In the past I've worked waaaaay too many hours and slept very little at times, all because I felt that I HAD to get that next post out before morning, because someone out there NEEDS this info, and if I didn't get it up then, my stats would drop and I wouldn't be able to pay my expenses for the month! (And yes, I did see the irony of writing a blog about health and my not-very-healthy habits.)
So as you can imagine, this stress would tend to mess up other parts of my life, too. Always feeling like I should be doing more as a Mom, or around the house, but still never getting on top of things on the blog, because there's always more that I “should” be doing. (Any faithful readers who would like to help support my little business, please shop via my resources page and/or check out the safer makeup and skincare here, or grab some gut-building colostrum here, thanks!)
Let me tell you how all of that has changed and how I'm feeling much more peaceful lately.
Last Spring Kent and I went to Colorado together — it was the first time he went with me for a business conference and it was so fun! Yes I was freaked out about flying somewhere without the kids, it's just a weird Mom fear I have (that the plane will go down and we'll leave our kids orphans), but I'm so glad we went and had that time away. Click here to read more about our CO trip and the blogging friends we got to hang with.
While we were there we walked a LOT around Denver, because that's what you DO when on vacation with Kent, and I actually love it, it's a neat way to see a city. Prior to this trip I'd been thinking about starting to track my daily steps and shooting for 10,000 steps a day, so this was the perfect kick-start, since we got 12,000 steps one day, and 16,000 another!
What does this have to do with PEACE?
It's all a perspective thing. My biggest threat to personal peace has always been related to time-management. Moms and dads, I know you can relate: how in the world can we get it all done and sleep too, with only 24 hours in a day?
First of all, most of us try to do waaaay too much. Jen Fulwiler has helped me with this. She tells a story about how her husband was looking at her to-do list one day and as they went down through everything, he said, “Stop, that's it. That's all you can do today.” (Read more about that here: The Courage to Rest.) In my other favorite post of hers, she talked about how Mother Teresa couldn't help everyone every day either. (The Secret to Not Being Overwhelmed.)
So I asked Fr. Langford: What did Mother Teresa do when it seemed that there was more work than she could possibly handle?
His response was simple and wise, and it marked a turning point in my life. In his reply to my email, he wrote:
The work she could not get to she did not think twice about, nor should you or I, since God is not asking you to do what He does not give you the time (or health or resources) to do. So be at peace.
Partly I've gotten better about this in the past year or so because I've decided to make NO my new default word. There are so many things I'd like to do or that I think I'd be good at, mostly different ministries at church that sound fun to be involved with, but I-can't-do-everything. Right now family, homeschooling, and my business is IT. And occasional nights out with friends. When I do add anything more in, it's only after a lot of prayer and talking with Kent.
PERSPECTIVE is huge…
Mostly though, when I started walking as an almost-daily habit, I don't know if it was more time experiencing God outside in nature and Him finally getting through to me (probably!), or the fresh air and sunshine helping me think clearly, but this helped me gain better perspective in all areas of my life. I'd come in from walking in the evening and when I'd normally have said to myself, “I've GOT to get that post up now!”, instead I'll say, “Nah, I'll do it in the morning when I'm fresh.” (Another score for the flexibility of homeschooling, because I let the kids sleep in while I work early in the mornings when it's quiet. Read more about that in my recent homeschooling update on how we finally found our groove.) Then I'll watch Fixer Upper on TV (do you know how long it's been since I've chilled out and watched a TV show?!), or play a game with the kids, or get a few things done around the house before going to bed at a decent hour. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep consistently these days also helps the whole clear-thinking and perspective thing too, I'm sure.
My tips for making it all work and getting exercise in too:
Before I started walking regularly, I'd often say, “I can do THREE of the following each day besides keeping up on the basics (meals, laundry, errands, etc.): I can homeschool the kids, do my computer work, and only ONE thing extra: exercise, sleep, or pray — pick one.” But I thank God that now, somehow, He has worked it all out!
Hint, it's all about multitasking, but not in a “I'VE GOT TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE” stressful kind of way. It's more relaxed…
- Instead of meeting friends for a coffee date, we'll often get together and walk. 🙂
- No time to fit in daily devotions or prayer time? You can pray on your walk or all day long! In the past I'd hear, “You make time for what's important to you.“, so I'd feel bad for not taking the time with God first thing in the morning–but that's when I have to work because the kids are still sleeping, my brain is fresh, and I get so much more done! It never seemed to happen in the evening either because you all know how it is, it's a circus around here. Then one day on a podcast I heard a priest say, “You just might not have TIME to get in specific Bible reading or prayer time, but God is everywhere ALL DAY LONG, just talk to Him!” You know what? That's what I've done and it's been really really good. After a while it becomes a habit, so I'll chat with Him throughout the day, or in the night if I wake up and feel like there's someone that I need to pray for, or on my walks. Most days I do still pick up my devotional books or my Bible for some quiet time, but no more guilt if I have a crazy day and just can't do it. The point is, find what works best for you and your life right now. (Here are my favorite podcasts, by the way — I love turning these on while I fold laundry, or when I walk on the days that Kent or a friend can't go along.)
- Use this time to catch up with your spouse–Kent and I have great uninterrupted time to talk on our walks together.
- Have a lot of phone calls to catch up on? Do it while you're walking!
- Feeling down? I know that when you're feeling depressed, exercise is often the LAST thing you feel like doing, but if there's any way to get outside, it's the best way to help snap out of a bad attitude. I always get some new, helpful perspective on life when I'm out there. (And you may want to check out this post: How to Fight Depression and Anxiety Naturally: 20 Helpful Tips for Anxiety, Depression, and Fatigue.)
- Need extra motivation? The following essential oils are said to be helpful! You could rub a couple drops onto your temples or use a diffuser (click the names for the links to the kind I like): Ginger, Thyme, or Orange.
- No need to buy a Fitbit or another gadget, did you know that there is a tracking app right on your phone? Look for the pink heart app on your iPhone, it's been tracking your steps without you knowing it! (But be sure to get a radiation-blocking case for your cell phone, especially if you keep it in your pocket! Click here to look at those, plus headphones, tablet covers and laptop pads. Or click here to read my review about them.)
- Don't necessarily walk hoping for weight loss. Walking results in losing weight for some, and I feel like it shapes your body more and you lose inches, but I walked for months before I noticed any change on the scales, and with my premenopausal stuff off and on, that was probably more to do with hormones. In general, exercise tones you up and is SO good for you, but sadly, it's not always going to result in weight loss in women as well as changing what or how much you're eating will. (Although in men it usually does!) What it does do, though, is get you thinking more about your health, and when you're toning up and clothes are fitting a bit better, it motivates you eat better, too. 🙂 See my newer post here about how I lost 22# even after menopause!
- I've never had time to “check Facebook” like some do, beyond the Kitchen Kop stuff that I post, so now if I'm done making phone calls, I've gotten good at reading on my phone while I walk, it's kind of fun. I can actually see what my friends or nieces and nephews are up to! I also have been known to catch up on email this way, too. You just need really good peripheral vision to see the sidewalk cracks, lol.
- I have to remind myself sometimes though, to just put the phone in my pocket and LOOK around at God's beautiful world, listen to the birds, and thank Him.
- Just to clarify. I don't walk every day, and don't beat myself up when life happens, but with that as the goal, I walk a LOT more than I used to.
- I'm hoping to keep it up even on cold winter days. On the really blustery days I can always get on the treadmill — I've got a treadmill desk similar to this one, so I can still multi-task. 🙂
- By the way, another reason walking is better than running is that it costs less time AND money:
- No need to put special clothes on since you probably won't break a sweat.
- You can just take one shower in the morning and no need for another after a walk.
- No gym fees, no driving back and forth, I love that!
Don't think that all of this means every day is rosy perfect around here — I've still got piles of stuff that need to be sorted and a house that isn't sparkly clean (or even close!), but I feel more settled inside and peaceful.
I remind myself now, “That stuff will get done when it needs to get done.”
So go outside for a walk and take advantage of the fresh air and the new perspective on life that it brings, then see how things may start falling into place in your life, too.
Let me know in the comments where you're at with time management and exercise, or tell us what helped to give YOU a new perspective and peace in your life?
Related posts, or not:
- How to Eat Carbs Safely and Lower the Glycemic Index of the Foods You Love (Also: Why Dieting Backfires!)
- More posts about exercising are here
- Lowering stress and anxiety by realigning your priorities
- Has technology stolen your evenings, weekends, and vacations?
- My All Natural Chill Pill for Anxiety
- A book Jen mentions, which I read years ago and forgot about: The Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Life
- Don’t get the whole Christianity thing? Check out my other blog: Christianity101Blog.com
- Another good book: Boundaries, When to Say Yes, When to Say No, How to Take Control of Your life
Allison Campbell says
Walking is wonderful 🙂 I think that “exercise” came about because our culture doesn’t move naturally anymore, frequently throughout the day at low intensity. Our bodies adapt to the most frequent positions we put them in, and the activities we do. I’d bet a lot of people my age in their twenties (in western culture) would not have the endurance to walk 5 miles without getting fatigued for example, because we are used to being sedentary with small percentage of the day spent in high intensity exericse trying to make up for when we don’t move.
Trixie Grohman Ferguson says
I have “fallen off the wagon” regarding bedtime this year. :/ I guess I better buckle up and get back on.
Bekah Laurain says
I’d like to counter Psalm 127:2 with Proverbs 31! It sure is a delicate balance!
Kate Bowen says
I’m going out for a walk NOW!!
Daniel Barkman says
Make your self for about two weeks it will become a habit and stick to your plans
Karleen Wiley Mauldin says
VERY therapeutic mentally & emotionally!
Trixie Grohman Ferguson says
I have read in multiple different places that walking is actually the best exercise for our bodies as we were designed to be walking around tending to our life when we were created.
Walking helps me tremendously! I tried running in college and it messed up my knee. I used to walk everyday, but life has been so tipsy turbo it doesn’t always happen, but I try to squeeze in 3-4 times per week at a minimum. I love the fresh air and the quiet. Sometimes my kids want to go too and I get to watch them run and explore. I’m with you—walking is so much more peaceful.
Jill-David Boman says
I’ve walked for years but noticed an improvement in overall fitness and muscle tone when I began incorporating a few stretches of running into my walks. So now I mostly walk but do add short bursts of running. Also, I watched an interview a couple years ago with the oldest Ironman athlete (in his 80s) and he said his “secret” was going anaerobic every day. It kind of stuck with me and now if I’m walking and don’t “feel” like adding a few runs to it, I’ll think, “Yeah but that cool old guy goes anaerobic every day,” and then I’m motivated. 🙂
Liz Ferguson says
I like both, but running always feels more efficient to me. My favorite running distance is 10 miles – – it always feels substantial and like it’s not something just anyone can do.
Jacquelyn Lindsey Hoag says
Thom Hartman has a great small book on walking. Best antidote for depression. The rhythm of body movement balances your left and right sides of brain
Julie Carroll-Despres says
I def prefer walking any day
Nicole Erickson says
Julie Carroll-Despres, yay for walking!
Small disciplines can pay off disproportionately in terms of a peaceful spirit and healthy perspective. Take, for instance, the tiny effort involved in hitting the shift key to capitalize the “B” in Bible. Although the time and energy involved are truly negligible, they yield the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve shown a basic form of respect for Him, in a visible way that is increasingly omitted by the world at large.
Hi Joan, looks like you found another one I need to correct.
Will do that next time I’m on the computer. 🙂
Thanks – I appreciate this, as well as all the helpful/inspiring information about exercise/time management/peace!