The human body was made to move.
Naturally, at its most basic and fundamental level, walking as a form of fitness and enjoyment is literally hard-wired into our DNA.
This begs the question then- why aren't we doing it?
Media outlets in the fitness space tend to focus on photos of chalk-handed CrossFitters lifting heavy barbells, and Ultra-marathoners sprinting through Death Valley; leaving just a dim spotlight on the health practice of walking.
Automation Vs. Perspiration
As a society, we're reaching the pinnacle dilemma between satisfying the needs of our bodies and the needs of our careers.
In a typical 9-5, office workers can remain sedentary for over 8 hours; leaving their nervous system feeling drained and muscles stiff from lethargy. Sitting again in traffic on the way home, a fight ensues between the motivation to lace up for the gym and the energy deficit at the mental bank.
Faced with a cognitive hurdle of lifting weights or sweating in a spin class, there's no guarantee this style of day won't end with a serotonin shot from a pint of ice cream.
In contrast to the shame cycle, understanding that better health comes not from perfection but progress, the solution to increasing energy and opening the door for more vitality can be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.
Digital health technology, discussed in greater detail below, is now empowering all ages and walks of life towards the intersection of personal accountability through increased mindfulness.
Work Hard, Play Hard?
Public health leaders have been weighing in on taking small and frequent walking breaks that can add years to your life, with intensity proving not to be the determining factor when it comes to healthy movement. On the contrary, emerging research is uncovering further deleterious effects of the typical sit-all-day and workout-at-night framework.
“Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day. You can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise.” – Dr. Katy Bowman, Author & Scientist
In 2013, the University of Texas School of Public Health asked 218 marathoners and half marathoners to report their training vs. sitting times. Their median training time was 6.5 hours per week, with a median total sitting time of 8 to 10.75 hours per day; suggesting that recreational distance runners are simultaneously highly sedentary and highly active.
According to new research this year by Cambridge University, a brisk 20 minute walk each day could be enough to reduce an individual’s risk of early death.
In comparison to the practice of stretching and walking every 2 hours, implementing a standup work desk, and integrating a handful of 7 minute movement breaks into a workday, the old motto of “work hard play hard” just doesn't win in the long run.
Digital Health Walking Apps
A major criticism of the pedometer is that it does not record one's intensity. This is where a digital health dashboard or “ecosystem” can allow end-users to take their personal health reporting to the next level. Check out these 3 top mobile apps used in conjunction with or without a fitness wearable for stepping up your next session:
- FitBit – This app used with a wearable contains multiple challenges for you to get the most out of your steps: Weekend Warrior, Daily Showdown, and the Workweek Hustle. The challenges are custom to your social group and include cheers, taunts, and push updates. Those in your group who accept the challenge have their steps measured against other participants, allowing you to see micro-events of who’s winning, whether people are almost tied, or if anyone has hit their own daily personal goals.
- Map My Walk – Allows you to record your workout details, including duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned, and route traveled on an interactive map. With the advent of a recent 3rd party integration, additional data such as dynamic heart rate can be added to your dashboard for analysis on the bigger-health picture from each session.
- The Walk – Fitness Tracker and Game – The NHS and Department of Health have teamed up with creators to provide a fun and entertaining way to promote walking. Gamification has been designed so that the level of difficulty is based on the fitness level of the individual. Serving as a motivator, it offers personal challenges with a pedometer, by evading captures from the police, enemy agents, and added steps to collect more clues.
My Own Journey
I’ve been using the Fitbit App with the SURGE for over 4 months now and can attest from walking an extra mile at 9pm just to beat a friend in a weekday challenge that it definitely serves to be a motivate! Training my habits on a continual basis has been a lot easier and felt more accomplished with a flip of my wrist to check how I'm doing.
In this modern life, it's clear that we spend a lot of time sitting around. With vibration reminders and push notifications, now that very same iPhone keeping you head down in the chair also has the power to get you up and out of it.
Walking is the optimal catalyst for de-stressing and rejuvenation in times of burnout: It gives you the opportunity to actually look up from the screen and see the beauty that's all around you.
With the rise of digital health amplifying our behaviors and positively impacting our health, we've got some fun steps ahead.
About the author:
Mary Goldman is a vibrant and energetic leader with 12 years of experience delivering SaaS wellness solutions for clients and creating dynamic program content in the health and wellness industry.
With deep experience in business development, account management, client relations and overall relationship building with executives, clients, vendors, resellers and internal teams, Mary brings a highly organized and capable track record of success in business development and client retention.
Mary is extremely passionate about health and wellness and leading the Wellness Force team and audience to their highest potential.