Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
8 Jul

7 Powerful Ways to Make Walking More Exciting

WalkingThis is guest post from Kevin Geary. Kevin is the founder of Rebooted Body, host of The Rebooted Body Podcast, and creator of the Total Body Reboot online program. He uses a unique blend of ancestral science and modern psychology to help men and women reprogram their body and mind for sustainable fat loss, vibrant health, and peak performance. Enter Kevin…

Walking is the number one underrated activity for health and fat loss. But, it’s time consuming and it often lacks excitement, which are the main objections I hear. Until now.

Look, I’ve made these same objections myself. Some days I love walking and some days I can think of better things to do. Sometimes I have a lot of time and sometimes I’m pressed for time.

But it’s something that has to be done. You’re a human being. You have to move. Sitting is killing you and going to the gym a few times a week isn’t going to change that.

What I’ve done is come up with some techniques for spicing up the activity of walking, which will help you want to fit it in. I also give some tips for fitting walking into your busy schedule.

This isn’t a list of shallow suggestions like, “listen to podcasts” or “take your dog.” It’s a list of ways to be more engaged and excited about the activity itself and to create a deeper connection with your primal nature.

1. Breath Walking

Breath Walking

This is a mental exercise as much as it’s a physical one. It also happens to be the number one way to ensure you’re completely present on your walks.

It’s simple: breathe only through your nose for the entire walk. Don’t open your mouth. If you need to slow down at any point, do so, but keep breathing through your nose.

If you hate meditating or think meditating is woo-woo stuff, then just do this exercise on your walks and you’ll get many of the same benefits.

I wouldn’t recommend that you do this on ALL your walks, but it’s a great exercise to employ from time to time.

2. Exploration Walking

Exploration Walking

If you walk the same path every day, it’s no wonder you’re bored. If you walk on concrete every time, same thing.

When you walk the same path day in and day out, your mind wanders. You’re just going through the motions. It’s a small fraction of what it could be.

Walking used to be about traveling. You’d walk to new places, see new things, and explore. Often, you’d be scavenging for food or water.

Adopt that mindset! Reconnect with your primal nature. Don’t set out with a distance or a plan. Don’t set out to follow a “course.”

Start on your normal path and then take a random detour. Be willing to get lost. Be willing to get wet. Be willing to walk through fields and forests.

When you’re exploring, all five senses are honed in on the land in front of you. Cherish that, it doesn’t happen often these days.

When I walk with my daughter, I notice she stops often and engages with stuff. She’ll pick stuff up, look at it, smell it. She’s two — and 200% present. Reconnect with that part of your humanity. Be okay with slowing down, stopping, and taking the time.

Bonus points if you can forage for wild foods. It’s not easy. Research online for how to identify them, collect them, and prepare them.

3. Agility Walking

Agility Walking

You’re going to need to channel your inner child for this one.

I’m not a fan of running — the monotonous, pounding activity that so many people love to destroy their bodies with. But, that’s not to say that you can’t run, ever.

Agility walking is the most dynamic form of walking that I’ve come up with. It’s a mix of walking, strategic running, leaping, climbing, and sometimes crawling. It also perfectly compliments exploration.

Here’s how it works: If the landscape is flat or downhill, then walk. If it grades uphill, then jog. Mix in the exploratory nature (veer off course) and start tackling obstacles. Don’t walk around the downed tree, leap over it. Fence in the way? Don’t find your way around, climb it.

You can do this in a forest or an urban jungle. My last agility walk took me through a park where I hit the monkey bars, slid down a slide, climbed the fence to the baseball field, sprinted across the field, climbed the other fence, and then went back to walking.

There’s no recipe. It’s all about making the trip as dynamic as possible and incorporating as many movements as you can into the activity.

You can do this whether you’re 20 or 80, just tailor it to your individual abilities. Yes, it still counts as walking because you end up walking for a majority of the time. But it’s a hell of a lot more fun.

4. Travel Walking

Travel Walking

Oh my God, I’ve got this great idea!

What? What is it?

We could actually walk to our destination!

I was in Austin, Texas for the PaleoFX conference recently and an odd question kept coming up. When we were heading out for lunch or to after-conference meet-ups, the question was, “should we drive or walk?”

You wouldn’t think that conversation would come up at a Paleo conference, but alas, it happened often.

Sad, I know.

So, I chimed in as quickly as possible: walk!

Homo Sapien Domestico Fragilus — as my friend Daniel Vitalis refers to our modern subspecies — is always so quick to make things more convenient and less physically demanding. How often have you had the same conversation?

If your destination is within 5 miles and you’re not pressed for time, then walk! Cherish the fact that you don’t have to walk in a circle today just to escape the doom of your convenient lifestyle. You have somewhere to go — that’s exciting!

My footprints are ALL OVER Austin. And I’m better off for it. And I got to see more of the city than I would have if we had taken a car everywhere.

5. Vary the Time of Day & Conditions

Variable Walking Conditions

Want a quick way to know if you belong to the fragile, domesticated version of Homo Sapien that I mentioned earlier?

Think about the time of day you tend to walk. In the Summer, early morning or early evening when the sun is low in the sky to “beat the heat?” In the Winter, mid-day when it’s warmest? Always when it’s bright, because the darkness is dangerous? Always when it’s dry, because you might melt if it’s raining?

You’re infected with the domestication virus. Sorry.

The good news is that it’s curable. Varying the time of day you walk and the conditions you walk in are the antidotes to your fragility.

Walk when it’s cold. Walk when it’s hot. Walk when it’s dark. Walk when the sun is rising or setting. Walk when it’s raining.

Experience the variability. Life shouldn’t always be a steady 70 degrees. Live a little.

6. Walk Barefoot

Barefoot Walking

If you’re walking in barefoot shoes or minimalist shoes, you’re doing pretty well. But I want to challenge you to take it a step further.

It doesn’t matter if you’re walking on concrete or planning on heading off the beaten path, barefoot is the way to go. Even if you only go full barefoot once in a while, it’s a step up in your walking game.

There’s nothing like feeling the Earth — putting the nerves in the bottom of your feet against the soil is as primal as it gets.

Sure, it’s more dangerous. You could get cuts and scrapes. But it’s worth it. The more you do it the tougher your feet will get and the more intuitive you’ll be (to avoid dangerous things).

It’s also a great way to ground yourself. While there may be controversy in the science surrounding the benefits of grounding, there’s no doubt that barefoot is the natural state of walking.

7. Walking Workout

Training Walking

One of the biggest objections I get from clients is, “I can do the bodyweight strength training, resistance training, and sprint sessions — those are short and sweet. But walking on top of all that is just too much of a time investment.”

I so get it! We’re all busy. I quit my job to build Rebooted Body full time and I’ve never worked more in my life. So, what’s my solution?

Step One: Make daily activity a priority — schedule the time.

Step Two: Walking Workouts to combine walking with a workout to fit it all in.

A Walking Workout is where you combine bodyweight strength training or a sprint session with your walk. You can spread it throughout the entire walk, pausing at various points, or you can do the workout portion all at once in the middle or at the end of the walk.

If you’re clever, you can do this with resistance training too. It depends on how Grok you wanna be with finding big logs, rocks, and so on.

A big benefit to this is that the brisk walking is a great warmup for whatever else you’re going to do. And it’s a natural cool down as well. Perfect.

A final tip for staying motivated.

As humans, we need to be walking — intentionally — every day. Understanding this, let me help you deal with all the excuses and objections with one single tip.

Here it is…

It doesn’t matter if you have five minutes or 5 hours, get outside and walk intentionally every single day.

There’s plenty of days where I feel too busy or unmotivated. On those days, I just walk to the end of my street and back. Five to ten minutes. When I’m feeling motivated, I’ll walk for an hour or two.

Avoid boxing yourself into plans and schedules. Saying, “I’ll walk 30 minutes a day” is too rigid. Habits come from doing things without fail, but building a habit has nothing to do with duration of the activity.

What you’ll find when you walk daily without setting time limits is freedom. Most of the time, once you’re out the door you’ll decide to go further than you felt like going. But, if you think you MUST do some arbitrary amount of time, you may not make it out the door at all.

If you have any tips for making walks more exciting or engaging, I’d love to hear them in the comments section!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. As an outdoorsman/hunter, I get to ‘exploration walk’ throughout most of our 4 seasons. I love my time in the woods. I haven’t found a way to do it barefoot yet while still keeping my feet warm during our autumn and early winter seasons.

    Bryan wrote on July 9th, 2014
  2. Forgive my ignorance, but how long is it recommended to walk daily in order to not “over-exercise”? I am in a very weakened condition, and am trying to maintain muscle strength by walking. Yet, merely walking can make me feel tired afterward. Is there a certain time that is advised? Or does everyone have their sweet spot? What are signs of one’s “sweet spot”? How do I know when I’ve overdone it, and when I’m just doing a healthy pushing myself?

    grae_bird wrote on July 9th, 2014
    • I think it’s one of those things where “you’ll know” when you’re at your limit. It’s low enough intensity that it’s tough to overdo it if you’re simply listening to your body. Does that make sense?

      Kevin Geary wrote on July 9th, 2014
  3. I walk 4-5 miles daily and this is all good advice. Here’s two more:
    – Ride a bus or other public transport out and walk back. I have several favorite routes for this.
    – Try silent walking: https://medium.com/@martinedic/silent-walking-f89c605a884f

    We used to do this on hikes in boy scouts. It took me years to realize a brilliant scoutmaster had figured out how to shut 15 young boys up in the woods!

    Martin Edic wrote on July 9th, 2014
  4. Since I have been doing a lot of yard work, wouldn’t this be equivalent to walking, or more with moving stuff, cutting plants, etc?

    David wrote on July 9th, 2014
  5. I had some nice walks lately on a trip to Colorado. well…they started as walks but from 13000ft and higher it became more climbing…Mt Maroon is a little too steep for walking….but I reached the summit! then a day of rest….which involved carrying a 55lb pack another 5 miles….car trip to outside of Leadville (I would ride a horse if I had one in Colorado)…then another 4 miles + now 50lb pack (I ate a lot of food and drank a lot of water)….slept after bear bagging my stuff…woke up and walked up Mt Elbert

    Mt Elbert = walk/hike
    Mt Maroon = Hang on/pull yourself up/trust your toes/hang on your bones/Hang on and survive

    Mt Maroon gave me some lifetime memories

    Matthew Zastrow wrote on July 9th, 2014
  6. Okay, I thought someone would mention the photo with the woman in a short skirt and high heels walking in the winter. That seems a little crazy to me although I do see that on occasion. Why anyone would think this is a good idea is beyond me.

    Once, on an extremely cold wintery day, I was following an elderly woman walking through our village. I was bundled up to my eyeballs and she was wearing a dress, nylon hose on her legs, regular shoes and no hat. When I caught up to her, I asked if she was freezing. She said no, she always dressed this way in the winter. I am still puzzled by her. Maybe she was lying, like the women who say high heels are comfortable.

    The truth, Kevin. Why did you include that image?

    Sharon wrote on July 9th, 2014
    • The truth? Have you tried searching for stock images that you have to pay for so you don’t get sued, only to realize that there’s very few photographers who take amazing pictures of people walking barefoot in snowy weather? When you find one and purchase it for me so I can have Mark’s team replace the one that’s there, let me know.

      Kevin Geary wrote on July 10th, 2014
      • Okay, I figured it was a stock image. Sorry that was the best you could get. It is a striking image for sure but I just didn’t think it conveyed what you were all about.

        I have a friend who supplies stock images and is into the whole primal thing. I will talk to her and see if she can come up with something. Might even be for free. Or maybe I could take an amazing photo. I have been known to do that on occasion. Won’t be soon however since winter is more than a few months away. However, barefoot? Probably not.

        And, BTW thanks for your creative article. I’m sure it will get a bunch of us out and about.

        Sharon wrote on July 10th, 2014
  7. I have a friend who collects rusty metal to make jewelry and art. I have a 5 mile loop that I walk clockwise one time and counterclockwise the next time, looking for and picking up any rusty metal I find. Some days I come home with over a pound. As a bonus, I am squatting and reaching. It’s really fun for me. I consider it a good day if I find a really rusty washer and a tire weight. Some days I find things that are so large I wonder how the vehicle proceeded without the part!

    Ellen wrote on July 9th, 2014
  8. We love to walk! Definitely going to try out agility walking next time! Sounds like a blast :)

    CE Papas: the merrymaker sisters wrote on July 9th, 2014
  9. In my younger days I could walk 10 miles without much difficulty, 20 if I pushed myself. But when I retired due to poor health (a heart attack, diabetes) I was in very poor shape. After a mile of easy strolling I felt I needed a sit down and a snack. After two miles I was shaky with fatigue and couldn’t continue without taking a snack and rest break. Obviously I needed to do a lot more walking. But just walking was boring.

    So I restarted my old hobby of photography with a nice new camera. A good reason to walk, to look, to explore. I walked as far as I could at least once a week, and preferentially walked everywhere carrying a camera. That soon became a bag of camera plus lenses and sometimes a tripod.

    Eight years later I can now happily walk for several miles up and down hill, clambering over walls and fences, etc., carrying several Kg of camera gear, and without needing to stop for a rest or a snack.

    Chris Malcolm wrote on July 10th, 2014
    • I’m a photographer myself and go on photo walks as well. Love this!

      Kevin Geary wrote on July 10th, 2014
  10. Love walking after dinner time! Every season is has new sights, and beautiful skies. I especially love walking during the winter holidays -checking out all the decorations and lights! Makes you want to explore new neighborhoods, too.

    Jennifer wrote on July 10th, 2014
  11. Thank you for this article!

    I am one of those that gets analysis paralysis–where, if I can’t do the minimums outlined, but lack the movtivation to meet the minimums, I end up doing nothing at all.

    You just gave me (the mental) permission I needed to throw that hooey out the window! I’ve always known it was a load of c**p, but for whatever reason, my mind still insists that if the experts say you must do this-and-that, that anything less isn’t worth the time, as no results will come from it. And I’m all about results, otherwise, why bother?!?

    So, your words were just what my feeble mind needed to hear, as I always lack the motivation. Now I have permission to just walk to the end of my street and back for 5 to 10 minutes, if that’s all I’ve got in me, and that’s good enough. Before it always felt like it wasn’t “good enough”, so I ended up doing nothing, just like you said.

    And guess what?!? I took the advice, and went for a stroll yesterday, even though I didn’t fell much like it. I had no time or distance goals, just a destination I hadn’t been to in awhile, and I ended up walking 40 minutes, which was almost a mile round trip. I started out just going for 5 to 10 :)

    DelaneyDarkk wrote on July 10th, 2014
    • Yes! You also have my permission to stop putting yourself down ;)

      Kevin Geary wrote on July 10th, 2014
  12. I have to add a comment to Patrick’s of 8th July “Ask any 8 year old to teach you”
    WOW! After reading this yesterday I got the joggers out (I hadn’t been walking or exercising much for a few weeks as it is winter here in Australia) I waited for the sleety rain to stop and went walking with my son who is 9 (I am 50) we started up the road, headed off through the paddock up a hill to the trees and picked our way over some logs and sticks then some star jumps and through another gate and mud and back down another paddock over rocks, through a creek and home. This was all while doing any of the following – side jumps, leap frogging over tussocks, scrambling over rocks, skipping, running, deep breathing, jumping, talking non stop, jumping puddles, landing on a rock in the middle of a creek and scrambling up the other side. I was struggling to do 1/4 of what he did. We even lay down and rolled under the electric fence over the wet grass. When we got home he says “that was fun can we do that again” i replied “sure can but just may be not today”! don’t underestimate the power of kids to teach.

    Pam wrote on July 10th, 2014
  13. I love this article! Walking rocks!

    Peter wrote on July 10th, 2014
  14. Thank you for this article. It’s always a problem for me to go for a walk every day though I know how it’s important for being healthy. When I had a dog it was much easier. Our laziness is our enemy)))

    Svetlana wrote on July 15th, 2014
  15. We have 3 dogs, walking is something we do twice a day every day! One of the main benefits of having dogs is they need to be walked. We sort our weekends around taking them to different places up hills and mountains, to the beach etc. The feeling of walking in nature is the best thing for me to get over stress.

    fiona wrote on July 22nd, 2014
  16. I thought Nordic walking might get a mention here. It engages 90% of the body and is excellent for fitness. Plus it’s certainly more interesting and dynamic than walking without poles.

    Heidi wrote on July 22nd, 2014
  17. At any given time I have a gout flare up in either my toes, feet, ankles or knees; on one side or the other, sometimes both. This forces me to either walk very slowly or actually limp. Does anyone have any ideas on getting past this?

    David Michael wrote on October 15th, 2014

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