Fitness for Body, Mind and Spirit

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Fitness for the body, mind & spirit

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Thoughtful Thursday…5 benefits from my early morning walk...


Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.

Walking outside just feels great. Add to that a sunrise, fresh cut green grass, and birds chirping and it is a cornucopia of sights and sounds all while doing something as basic as walking.

Walking matters, folks. Big time. If we stop moving, even if we’re standing at our desks and hitting the gym every other day, we’re dying. We’re telling our bodies that we’ve given up, that it’s okay to shut down, that all those millions of years of daily, constant walking were an aberration, a mistake, a fluke. That’s folly. I think you know it, but I don’t know if you know it. ~ Mark Sisson

As Mark points out, walking is a big deal. You can reap many benefits from getting up and walking. When you do it and how you do it also can have an impact on what you gain from walking. Can something so simple have that big of an impact?

Yes!

Let’s jump to the 5 Benefits of my early morning walk!

#1.) Sun exposure early in the morning

Studies have shown that sunlight exposure during the early part of the day helps to decrease cortisol levels in the evening. This is the time we want it to decrease; we want cortisol peaked in the morning and gradually drop through the day. Getting up in the morning and having sunlight hit your skin is one of the best ways to set your circadian rhythm. When our circadian rhythm is out of balance, it negatively impacts our sleep. To help you set your circadian rhythm and get a better night’s sleep, get exposure to morning sunlight.

#2.) Morning walk in a fasted state

We’ve discussed exercising in a fasted state for fat loss - not having consumed any calories preferably for 12 or more hours. Walking in the early morning would foot the bill! For more fat loss tips, refer to newsletter, Your guide to burning fat...

Here is a refresher on benefits of exercising in a fasted state:

  • Burn more fat (24 hours after morning easy workout, fat oxidation rates increase)

  • Anti-aging effect (increase in anti-oxidants)

  • Better brain function - BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) is amplified; amplified more with aerobic exercise and less with strength training

  • Increased growth hormone levels

  • Improved insulin sensitivity (wait after exercise one to two hours to eat)

  • Increase testosterone

  • Enhanced fat loss (fatty acids can be mobilized from adipose tissue)

#3). Box-breathing while walking

What a perfect time to practice breath-work! It helps to focus the mind and get in tune with the body. Quieting the mind is a must in this chaotic and distracted world. I’m working to increase the amount of time I’m box-breathing while walking. It does take practice and focus. You can read more about box-breathing in this newsletter What I learned from a Navy SEAL on breath-work.

#4.) High-Intensity Repeat Training (HIRT)

sprinting

Over the course of my nearly 4 mile walk, I incorporate sprints along the way. These are very short in duration, about 15 to 20 seconds bursts of intensity and then I continue on with my walk. I do about 5 of this sprints over the course of my 4 mile walk. This type of intensity training is referred to as HIRT or High-Intensity Repeat Training.

Here it is defined: Interval training is differentiated from repeats by when the recovery occurs. In interval training, the recovery is incomplete, so the next interval starts when the person is already fatigued. This incomplete recovery leads to a decline in performance after each interval. Repeats maintain the same high level of performance over time.

HIRT reduces long-term stress on the body that comes from HIIT [High-Intensity Interval Training]. The key component of HIRT is to maintain effort and power on each and every repeat. Charlie Francis, coach to many Olympic world-record holding sprinters, was known to maximize rest intervals so each sprint could be better or at least the same as the sprint before. Rest was vital so that people could ‘repeat’ their performance, not watch it degrade.

Incorporating sprints along my walk allows me to fully recover before doing the next portion of intensity. Being fully recovered I can perform each sprint optimally.

#5.) Walking in nature

walking in Nature

I love listening to the birds and seeing them fly overhead while I walk. Just being in nature reduces blood pressure. Studies abound on the benefits of walking in nature. Some of the benefits include:

  • Decreased depression

  • Improved well-being and mental health

  • Lower perceived stress

  • Better cardiovascular health

  • Strengthened bones

  • Boosts in creative thinking

#6. Bonus Benefit...Walking

Walking (upright) is one basic destination between humans and other animals. To quote Mark Sisson, “Walking is our birthright…Given our extensive history with the activity, you might even say our genes “expect” us to walk…” Regular walking improves working memory in older adults. Older healthy adults who walk briskly live longer than those who don’t.

Nothing could be more basic than getting out there and walking. Make it part of your lifestyle. After all, our genes expect it.

Enjoy your journey,

Lisa Schaffer

GreenNote Fitness

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Did you miss last week’s newsletter on The exercise for healthier and stronger shoulders…?

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