I'll start off by saying this was made easier by merging my walking time and my learning time. Devoting 60 minutes (the average time for me to walk four miles) to my ever increasing desire to consume audio books really made this personal challenge enjoyable. I ask clients to walk as often as they can. That walking offers less pounding on the joints than its more bone abusive counterpart, running, goes without saying. So what major benefits did I see after 30 days?
My sleep improved dramatically. I'm not just guessing either. I've been using the Oura Ring for over two years now. Leading the pack in recording sleep metrics, Oura has really changed the game in improving one's sleep with valuable information. My REM and Deep Sleep both saw improved numbers. I usually suffer the occasional bout with insomnia. After starting my walking regime falling asleep and waking up were both easier, and I haven't been hit by the insomnia monster.
2. Vitamin D.
With COVID-19 ruling 2020, the single best defense in my non-medical opinion is an improved immune system. Vitamin D is one of your biggest allies in building a cellular fortress. Breathing fresh air and soaking up sun-rays really affected my mood as well. The real cherry-topper for me were the sights. Daily deer sightings and bird's galore made for a scenic trek. Getting outside more was probably the biggest challenge for me as I'm very pale and victim to easily burned skin. The month of August is unrelenting in Ohio. This summer was no exception. I often found myself getting up early in the morning to walk while the sun was yet to rise in fiery anticipation of my vampire skin.
3. Productivity and Focus.
Let's face it. Who doesn't want to be more productive or more able to focus for longer periods of time? This was by far one of the single biggest benefits I noticed over the course of 30 days. My energy levels, primarily in the afternoon when I’m accustomed to crashing, skyrocketed! In fact, to further test this effect on me, I stopped drinking my daily sources (usually tea) of caffeine about mid way through the month to see the result. My energy levels continued to increase! It's important to note that this energy burst happened mostly on the days I walked early in the morning. However, walking over lunch had the same effect, just less intense.
4. Mind Time.
I decided to listen to an audio book half the time each day and spend the other half simply clearing my mind. Oh how 30 minutes of relaxing the mind can change everything! After about one week of walking, I would get up with gleeful anticipation, looking forward to decluttering the hundreds of thoughts fighting for my mind's eye. When I didn't walk early in the morning I experienced higher levels of anxiety leading up to the time of day I actually planted my size 13's on the pavement. I experimented with different genres of music while walking too. Classical helped my mind find ease, while upbeat tracks forced my legs into a rhythmic race start to finish.
I won't get into walking pace or other extrinsic metrics from my experience because it's my hope you will tap into how you feel as your litmus test. I did improve my overall fitness levels. You will too (so long as eating away at your gains isn't a priority), because you're simply moving more. Don't get caught up in how your body looks. Challenge yourself to hone in on your mood and energy levels. That alone is worth it. Good luck! *As always, please consult your physician before starting any new exercise plan.