Why I'm Walking 21 Minutes Daily in 2021
Apart from getting my fitness on, I've realized how this little chunk of walking time can be spent helping my mind wander, and promote creative thinking too!
We may be in 2021 already, but some things will continue to be the same. Case in point: working from home. While this setup has its perks, we may tend to forget the perils of sitting for hours on end, not knowing that sitting may well be considered the new smoking. Now no one wants that.
January marks the month when we make our resolutions, but while resolutions always seem daunting to many, often ending up in failure, this year we're doing small changes that can have a big impact in the long run. Instead of claiming to have six-pack abs by June (which you should totally do if you're really the type to get fired up by a challenge), why not start your fitness journey by tweaking something small in your routine? Something that eventually leads you to bigger changes? Case in point: walking daily.
We all walk. It's almost like a reflex action. But mindfully setting aside time to brisk walk and do it as a fitness activity is another thing. The pressure to reach 10,000 steps daily is real, and can often add even more stress to already stressed-out people at home, knowing that sometimes this figure just can't be done. But to get the ball rolling, I personally thought of doing what my favorite podcasters did last year: to walk 20 minutes daily in 2020.
20 for 2020
I've been an avid listener of the podcast Happier by Gretchen Rubin, who does it with her sister Elizabeth Craft, a TV Writer and Producer from LA. This podcast has been particularly helpful during the pandemic, when they helped listeners navigate these surreal times with practical, sometimes whimsical tips and tricks to help one take back control, and happiness over one's life. One such practical takeaway I've had from their podcast recently is when I listened to their episode that talks about 'Walking 20 for 2020'. At the start of last year, they made a vow to walk 20 minutes daily for the entire year and see what happens.
They shared their success in carrying this mission out, and also shared what their listeners have achieved along the way, while doing this 20 for 2020 walking goal. A lot have seen improvements in their health, weight loss goals, and even relationships. Talking to neighbors while walking, forging special moments with people you love while walking—the list goes on. That immediately became a lightbulb moment for me.
I sometimes dread the fact that I am not able to get my 10k steps in daily, but with just 21 minutes in 2021, it felt possible, and very much doable. Instead of putting a 10km or 1 mile daily goal, or a 'six pack abs by ____' goal, walking 21 minutes daily felt like something that was right up my alley.
I've started doing this since the beginning of the month, and while I have 11 months and a few weeks to go before I know I am successful with this new daily activity, I know I'm feeling good with how it's going so far. Every day before sunset, I step out of the room, get some air, set my timer alarm at 21 minutes, and start brisk walking all around the lawn. I get to stare at the sky, chat with my husband, enjoy the moment, and feel my body get rejuvenated with the simple act of walking constantly. Once the alarm goes off, it already feels like time flew by, and I am happy I did it. On days I don't workout vigorously, I aim to do this 21-minute walking session diligently, and wait to see what amazing results come out of it!
We've heard about the many amazing health benefits walking, but sometimes, we need a reminder. According to Healthline, it doesn't just help burn calories a.k.a weight loss, it also strengthens our hearts. In a health crisis like a pandemic, sometimes we forget to be mindful of the other illnesses that could develop as we are so laser-focused on the virus going around. Now is the time to be mindful of all the other diseases that could be around us, as well as the lifestyle-induced illnesses that could develop with all this time spent in sluggishness at home.
Healthline also tells us that walking helps lower blood sugar, eases joint pain, boosts your immune function (virus, go away!), boosts energy levels, improves mood, tones your legs, encourages creative thinking, and eventually helps extend your life! Now if these reasons aren't enough, then perhaps improved relationships or lessening screen time can add to that and finally convince you! Setting your gadgets aside for a chunk of time in a day, just being immersed in your surroundings and your companion helps relieve the mind of clutter, and helps you actually produce quality conversations—something we all need more of!
You can even do it with a furry friend, to help them get their exercise on too. Or if you're the type who isn't easily distracted, why not plug a podcast on and listen while you walk? Just make sure that if you're doing it outside of your home, wear a breathable mask to stay safe. (We rounded up the best breathable masks you can use while you work out, you're welcome!)
It can be 21 minutes, and it can be more. The duration is really up to you. Work your way up to an hour if you can, and bring your loved ones with you on your walk. Let's get to a better place (physically and emotionally) this 2021, one step at a time!
Listen to Happier with Gretchen Rubin Ep 305: "We Share Listeners' Success Stories from "Walk 20 in 2020" and Reveal Our Challenge for 2021" here.
Lead photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash