Exercise is so important, for mindfulness and for our physical and mental wellbeing. It can be really hard though: establishing a routine of going for a daily jog or cycle or swim is unbelievably tough. So, I really recommend walking, especially to those who find vigorous exercise a challenge. What I really recommend is aiming to get 10,000 steps a day. There are dozens of pedometer apps you can get on your phone, and all of them will have the goal pre-set at getting that 10k. It becomes something of a game, I know I’ve got into the habit of checking the app I use (pacer) to see if I’ve reached the magic 10k. It really does motivate you, and walking is a great way to be in the moment and take note of the world around you. When I walk I noticed the blue sky and the green grass and the trees and my own emotions and reaction to the world around me.
Another reason that I think that walking is fantastic is that it allows you to take some time out of your busy life and just focus on the now, and think for a bit. I almost always come up with new ideas and solutions to problems I’ve been having while on my daily walk. It’s funny: going for a walk can allow you to come up for a solution to a problem you’ve been working on all day. They say that Einstein came up with some of his greatest work while doing a mundane job at the patent office, and I think something similar applies to me for walking. I can spend all day working on a task and then finally I’ll come up with the answer when I’m no longer working on it.
The way to start getting 10,000 steps is pretty simple: aim low. Start using your pedometer and see what your average is. If it’s 1000, that’s totally fine. It doesn’t much matter, the point is that you want to see what kind of numbers you’re hitting without putting any effort in. Then, try to increase the number of steps you take. Pretty obvious, right? Walk to work instead of driving. Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest. Walk to the bar instead of getting the train. These small, simple changes will allow you to rack up the steps. Of course, the big thing is making the conscious decision to go for a long walk. Go to the most beautiful part of your city and just take in your environment. Be mindful of where you are and the people around you and the sounds you hear. Listen to music if you’d like, or put on an audiobook. I’ve read that Stephen Fry lost a load of weight by walking around and listening to audiobooks for hours on end. I’ve also read that David Mitchell became much healthier by walking around, which he was suggested to do in order to help with his back pain.
Walking 10,000 steps eventually becomes a pleasure, not a chore. I find it difficult to have a day without my 10,0000 steps. Downloading a pedometer on my iPhone and counting my steps was one of the best decisions I ever made.