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by UNC Campus Recreation

Staying Active This Summer: Walking

I have a confession. Although I preach regular exercise, even when life gets super hectic and stressful and you don’t think you could fit anything else in your schedule, I failed to adhere to this philosophy during finals week this semester. I convinced myself that I was better off skipping exercise and, instead, spending every single spare second of my time studying. Looking back, those extra minutes spent studying weren’t much help; on the other hand, a quick trip to the gym or even a few minutes of walking probably would have lowered my stress levels and improved my mental clarity, leaving me better off in the long run.

After a week-long hiatus from exercise, my muscles were not ready when I jumped back into exercising. The days following my first workout after exams, my muscles were so sore almost any movement hurt! I didn’t want to stop being active, but I also needed to give my body a break from strenuous exercise, so I decided to walk for about an hour each day.

Walking is a great form of exercise for several reasons. First of all, it requires no equipment; only a pair of tennis shoes! Second, walking is both a moderate intensity exercise and is easy on your joints, which means that it is great for those who are beginning an exercise routine and is also often suitable for those who suffer from joint issues and cannot put much stress on their joints. If you are someone who regularly engages in strenuous exercise, walking could be a perfect addition to your exercise routine. Your body needs time to recuperate between difficult exercises, so it’s important to take days off from these exercises. Walking is a great way to continue to be active and get your heart rate up on these rest days from strenuous exercise!

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I know that when I am on campus, I walk at least a few miles each day without even trying! This past year the walk from my dorm to main campus was about a mile alone, and along with my walk from class to class, the dining hall, the library, the Student Rec Center, and wherever else I went on campus each day, I was walking 4-6 miles everyday! However, since I’m not on campus this summer and, thus, am no longer forced to walk long distances to carry out my everyday activities, the amount of walking that I am doing each day has dropped to virtually none. Unfortunately, my Fitbit has reminded me that sitting on the couch watching Netflix does not translate into steps, and I now realize that I need to make a conscious effort to incorporate walking into my days this summer.

If you too are off campus for the summer and your daily amount of walking has taken a dip, I encourage you to try to add some walking to your day, if only for a few minutes. Recruit a family member or a friend to walk with you and chat as you go, or take some downtime to yourself and listen to your favorite music or an audiobook as you walk. If you have access to a treadmill, you can prop up your phone or tablet and watch your favorite show while walking! This is my personal favorite way to walk because it allows me to be active and feed my Netflix addiction simultaneously!

While you may need to put in a little more effort to stay active during the summer, it is definitely worth it. Living an active lifestyle has numerous health benefits, and your mind and body will thank you in the long run! So go do some walking, and come back next week as I explore more ways to stay active this summer!