Some days are just not meant for exercise. The schedule is so busy that we cannot even find time on the calendar. Or we are too tired for anything intense, like running fast or going for a long ride. Fall and winter also bring colder and wetter days. If exercise is part of your work, or if you ride your bike to work, you have a workaround to these problems. Sports are built into your routine, into your daily schedule. So the temptation to stay inside and do nothing is definitely not going to be an issue for you.
One of the main ideas from the Blue Zones by Dan Buettner states that long lived populations don’t tend to be athletes. By this, he doesn’t mean they sit at their desk all day. He doesn’t mean they slouch on their sofa, eating popcorn. Long lived individuals are active without being hardcore fitness geeks. Dan called the notion “moving naturally”.
Natural exercises: walking, and its benefits
First, one advantage about moving naturally is feasibility. We can walk inside a building, outside on the street, in nature, for a reason or for no particular purpose. This means that walking can be done anywhere. It does not depend on having special equipment, or special terrain and environment. Any place will do.
Second, a great thing about walking is that you can make it useful. Go to work by taking a longer route. Take the bus and walk to the bus stop. If you have a dog, or, in my case, if your wife has a dog and he needs some exercise too, take the dog for a walk. He’ll thank you for it by play-biting the leash and enjoy the same benefits of physical exercise as you.
Third, walking is easy on the body. We can debate whether there is a hormetic response from walking, since it does not put a lot of stress on the muscles, joints, and cardio system. Based on the Blue Zones and the related Okinawa Program study, most of these populations perform light exercises, like walks. Avoiding intense effort keeps the risk of over-exertion balanced.
Last, and this is for those who walk outside, you get to breathe some fresh air. This can include a change in temperature, some natural light exposure which we need. Of course, a nice view doesn’t hurt.