I lace up my sneakers and slip into my coat. It’s been a marathon day sitting in front of the computer, so I’m excited to shake off the dust and move my body.
I get to the bottom of the stairs and set off for a lap around the apartment complex. It may take a few steps or a few minutes, but eventually I feel myself start to delight in the moment – both in moving my body and in the humor of doing what I affectionately call the “granny power walk.”
It might sound unassuming at first, and I’m the first to tout the importance of challenging workouts, but the granny power walk – or a medium-pace outdoor walk – gets a lot of bang for its buck.
For one, it’s time you spend moving rather than sitting, which in itself is helpful. But for another, it’s restorative, convenient, and free, making it a great complement to any strength training routine and especially useful for busy seasons of life. It even boosts creative thought.
Here are some ideas for getting started with granny power walks of your own.
What exactly is it and how do I do it?
I think of the granny power walk as a focused walk intended to help me reboot and get light exercise. (I never thought I’d find myself defining the term “granny power walk,” but I’m not mad about it!)
Ideally, I go for an hour, which is often doable since there’s no commute time involved. Sometimes I get warm and even break a little sweat, but my heart rate isn’t very elevated (it’s fairly flat around my apartment grounds). The point is to recenter, not to increase cardio capacity or build strength.
Walking is “me time,” so I do what’s relaxing. That means minimal texting, phone calls, and email. Because walking often sparks creativity, I shoot off texts or emails here and there, but only when it’s truly inspired and not if it’s interfering with my peace.
What I do focus on is how my body feels. I’m not spacing out. I’m focused on having healthy posture and walking in a way that protects my joints. I believe one of the biggest joys of moving your body is feeling athletic and powerful as you do it!
Because the granny power walk should be relaxing, I suggest wearing comfortable clothing and shoes that won’t be distracting or restrictive, especially once you warm up part way into your walk.
When should I do this?
As you can tell, you can power walk during most times of year! Proper clothing is the key. I walk 9 months out of the year living in the Northeast.
There are 4 main times you might consider doing a power walk:
During an especially busy stretch. It helps you move your body without spending essential time going to and from the gym – plus if you’re overstressed and underrested, it won’t add to those stressors like a tough workout might.
As a complement to strenuous exercise. You might strength train and do cardio 3-4 days per week and power walk 1-2 days of the week.
During your lunch break on a day when you can’t make it to the gym. Just make sure you have the proper footwear!
After getting home late from work. When the day stretches on, you might find yourself hesitant to go to the gym in the late evening – especially if you’re worried it’ll interfere with your ability to sleep (which can happen!). This is the perfect time to come home and set out for a power walk, assuming it is safe to do so in your neighborhood.
As far as time of day, I recommend power walking whenever you need a boost of creative thought and brain power – for example before you need to write or sink your teeth into a big project.
I’ve personally found two times that work best for my needs right now: in the morning, on a day when I’m not yet clear on my priorities and feel overwhelmed, or in the late afternoon when I need to reboot and reassess work priorities before finishing for the day. In the first case, I use my walk to recenter and remind myself that I have time for everything, and then one by one make sense of how to best approach what I need to get done. I’m always amazed at how quickly an overwhelming day becomes doable when I take the time to reflect on a game plan. In the second case, I often feel my brain power start to peter out by late afternoon and know I won’t be able to work as efficiently if I don’t move my body first. So I use the walk to rest my mind and let decisions come to me rather than forcing them.
Walking isn’t a replacement for more challenging movement, but it is a great tool to keep in your back pocket for days that call for more proverbial space and less effort. Often the hour I spend away from screens and simply breathing fresh air is the most useful, fulfilling time I spend all day.