I read today that the people who benefit the most from habit change, at least in the form of exercise, are the ones who go from doing nothing to walking at least 30 minutes per day. Daily exercise – even moderate daily exercise like a 30 minute walk – is the single best thing you can do for your health (aside from eliminating the things you should NOT do, like smoking).
Walking at least 30 minutes a day, as opposed to a sedentary lifestyle, increases the odds a person will make it to 100 years old, boosts mood, aids the retention of bone density (staving off osteoporosis), improves cardiovascular health, decreases obesity, and if you do it with a partner/friend/neighbor, increases social connectedness. I have an excellent walking companion in the form of our recently adopted pup.
Of all the habit changes I’ve made, this is the one I’ve been most consistent about, perhaps because I’m doing it for the pup as well as for me. Arlo and I walk three times a day, in addition to playdates with his golden/lab friend Tucker and trips to the dog park. We like the greenway behind our house the best, but for our longer rambles we’ve also checked out the unpaved trails by the university, the community garden, and the woods. Arlo loves it, and although I haven’t weighed myself, I did realize that I’ve gone down a full dress size, so I’d say the walking has been good for me. In the past, I’ve often told myself that I don’t have time to exercise, or that it’s too hard or too sweaty or that I hate the gym. I really do hate the gym, but walking is easy and comfortable and I love being outdoors, and I think it’s been good for my winter mood in addition to my waistline.
Here’s a pictorial of my most recent walk with the pup: