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Walking Is Not Exercise - Or So Some Say

fitnessinmenopause menopausefitness walking May 14, 2024
walking in menopause

A few weeks ago, the interview of a popular muscle-centric doctor went viral when she said that “walking is not exercise,” and I’m glad it did because it brought attention to the continued extreme all-or-nothing messaging that is so disgustingly prominent.

If you’ve been reading my newsletters for a while, you know I am a big fan of muscle-building. Building muscle is one of the most important things we can do for our quality of life. So, I am fully on board with being muscle-centric but not to the detriment of all other forms of exercise, and I am definitely not a fan of saying that one type is better than another. “Better” depends on too many variables for anyone to decide for you! Icicles 

The Fear of Not Doing Enough

One of the most damaging aspects of the all-or-nothing mentality is the fear of not doing "enough" exercise. Social media influencers and fitness gurus often perpetuate this fear by promoting extreme workouts that promise rapid results. But for women in midlife, who may be juggling menopause symptoms, careers, families, and other responsibilities, this fear can be overwhelming and paralyzing. The truth is, you don't have to spend hours in the gym or push yourself to the brink of exhaustion to reap the benefits of exercise. The “all or nothing” mindset makes people believe that if they’re not sweating buckets in a high-intensity interval training class, they’re not exercising. When people with millions of followers discourage people from doing a form of exercise that has been repeatedly linked to positive health outcomes, those people may shy away from even starting a fitness routine.  Walking is not just a form of exercise; it's a powerful tool for improving health and well-being and is one of the most accessible ways to improve your health.

The Power of Walking

Improves Health

Walking is a cardiovascular exercise that gets your heart pumping. It improves blood flow, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of heart disease. A large cohort study found that moderate-intensity walking offers similar benefits as higher-intensity running in terms of reducing the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. So, don’t underestimate the power of a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

Joint-Friendly Exercise

For many of us, going for a run, or participating in high-impact activities is not an option due to injuries. For example, I have hip and neck injuries that prohibit me from doing a lot of forms of higher-impact or repetitive motion workouts. And even if you can do all of the higher-intensity workouts, you may not want to do them, which is perfectly ok. Not liking something is a valid reason! 

Mental Well-Being

Walking isn’t just about physical health; it’s a mood booster, too. Walking has been linked to improvements in stress, anxiety, and depression. Studies have also shown that spending time outdoors can improve body image and mood. 

Time for You: For some, walking might be the only time we spend alone. It’s a chance to clear your mind, gain perspective, and prioritize self-care. I recharge when I can spend solo time, so I look forward to my walks. 

Consistency is more important than intensity

So, I hope that you don’t let sensational statements discourage you from any movement that you enjoy and want to or can do. Walking is not a second-rate exercise. It's important to remember that every type of exercise plays a role in your movement toolbox. By embracing walking as a valuable player in our movement journey, we prioritize sustainability and enjoyment.

What are some forms of movement you enjoy but may have been discouraged from doing? I'd love to hear. You can email me at [email protected]