The TRUTH About Walking: Can it Keep You Feeling Young and Pain Free?

Mom Podcaster
by megan dahlman
June 6, 2023

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Is walking enough? If you want to be fit, healthy and active right now and for many years to come, is it enough to be a daily walker?

Ok, is walking enough? The short answer is Yes and No.

I know that’s a really annoying answer, but that’s why I’m recording this episode for you. To lay it all out so you know without a shadow of doubt what you should do and what you can do to feel your best right now and for many years to come.

A month or so ago, we did a really fun photo shoot for the company. We asked some gals in their 50s, 60s, and 70s to join us for the shoot and model for us. They were wonderful! We had Dana, Paula and Benna - and Paula and Benna know each other from their neighborhood walking group.

A couple years ago, some of the ladies in the neighborhood organized a daily walking group that meets every morning and goes for a 2-3 mile walk, rain or shine. It’s fantastic!

But over the course of the few hours we spent taking photos of movements I frequently have women do in my programs, simple stretches, strengthening movements, and balancing positions, each of the ladies said over and over again, “I need to do this more. Wow, this feels good - I should be doing this. This is definitely something I need to work on more.”

And later, Benna and I were chatting and she said, “We walk every day, but is that really enough? Are there other things I should be doing, too?”

The problem is that many women, like Dana, Paula and Benna, want to feel fit, healthy and active for as long as possible, and they’re carving out the time to walk everyday and they’re very consistent with it. Which in itself, is highly commendable.

However, they might not realize that their body needs more variety. Or if they do realize it, trying to add that variety in feels overwhelming. Where do you even start? So walking…well it’s better than nothing, right?

Ok, I know that the world of fitness can feel downright confusing.

What are the best things to do? Should you lift some weights? Should you do yoga? Should you get your heart rate up more on the elliptical or try to jog more? There never feels like a clear enough answer of what you’re supposed to be doing.

Which is why we all will default to the path of least resistance, which is something that’s familiar and simple to do. For most women this is walking everyday, for others it’s going through the old exercise DVD’s, for others it’s showing up to that same class you’ve been going to for years.

But the problem is that you don’t feel like your body is actually achieving its potential. You do a movement and think, “Wow, that was hard. I’m not in as good a shape as I had thought.” Or you find yourself saying things like the ladies at my photo shoot were saying, “This is definitely something I need to be doing more.”

I hate that fitness is so confusing for you. My goal is to ALWAYS simplify it all, but in a way that still gets you results.

I came across a popular YouTube channel for 50+ women that was at-home workouts that were simple to follow along with, but just two minutes in, I could see instantly that it was just random bouncing around with movements that got your heart rate up and gave you the impression that it was a good workout. But when all is said and done, you never really trained the big key aspects of your fitness! And so after months of this, you’re left wondering why your body is still dealing with random aches and pains, is still not as resilient as it could be, and is still not in very good shape.

The last thing I want is for you to be wasting your time.

So let me go back to the question I posed at the very beginning: Is walking enough? If you remember, I said Yes and NO.

So, when is walking enough?

  • When you are just getting started - getting the ball rolling and creating intentional time to do physical activity is the most important thing when you’re starting out. It does NOT need to be the “most effective” thing yet. You just need to get moving, and starting with something that’s familiar and easy to do is the absolute best thing.
  • Walking is also enough when you are in a stressful season - Your body is fighting multiple battlefronts, and having a routine that’s more than light intensity, could simply be too much. It’s often the very best thing to do when you literally feel like your capacity is drained up. (Remember my episode with Angie Frey - Episode 222)

When is walking not enough?

  • When you have the routine in place already, you’re no longer in the “getting the ball rolling stage”, and you’ve been consistently walking for more than a month or two.
  • Now is the time to start looking at more variety for your body and realizing that for you to feel your absolute best, to feel young and pain free for as long as possible, it requires bringing in my 6 aspects of fitness: (I love a good framework!)
  • Cardiovascular stamina (walking helps with this)
  • Muscular strength (walking sort of helps with this)
  • Balance
  • Flexibility or joint mobility
  • Coordination
  • Power (this isn’t power lifting!)
  • Without all 6 things, your body will fall short and eventually fall apart. And you can feel it, even if you don’t really know why. It will be more prone to injury and chronic pain. More likely to develop things like osteoarthritis, sarcopenia, osteoporosis, and even cardiovascular diseases.
  • Now do you need a separate routine for each of these things? Because THAT would be overwhelming! No, not at all. With a well-designed program, it can be all included and in fact a lot of movements can check a couple boxes.
  • Just for kicks and giggles, let me give you a sample of a routine just from my Jumpstart 30 program and explain what each movement works on:
  • Total body extensions (power and strength and balance and cardio)
  • Bent-over T’s & W’s (muscular strength)
  • Lateral skater hops (power, strength, balance and stamina, coordination)
  • Bridges w/ crossover reach (coordination and strength and flexibility)
  • Birddogs (strength and coordination)
  • Half kneeling hip flexor stretch (balance and flexibility)
  • Half kneeling hamstring stretch (balance and flexibility)
  • Hooklying thoracic rotation stretch (flexibility)
  • In just 8 movements that are quite simple to do and feel great, we checked off every box. We hit all 6 aspects of your fitness. In less than 10 minutes.
  • Compare that with just walking, which marginally only checks the cardiovascular stamina box - you’re still going to have undeveloped balance, coordination, muscular strength, flexibility, and power.

Alright, so should you still go for walks? Or should you stop walking all together?

  • Let me just say this - Personally, I make every effort I can to go for a nice long walk every single day. But, I don’t do it as my primary form of exercise. It’s secondary to the kind of routine I mentioned above.
  • I walk for my mental health.
  • I walk for the stress relieving benefits.
  • I walk for extra movement and physical activity.
  • I walk to be in community with other people.
  • I walk to be in nature and to be alone, to pray and worship God.
  • Walking is not the thing that I’m relying on to keep me feeling young and pain free for years. Because I know it just doesn’t provide that.

Beth was a walker.

When I met her, she was 61 years old and religiously walked every single day. But she constantly dealt with hip pain. Her doctor said she was starting to lose muscle mass. And she had zero balance and realized she had this continuous fear of falling.

I started working with Beth and slowly add to her walking times with these functional movement routines (just like what I described - in fact, she did my Jumpstart 30 program). And after just three weeks, she felt like all the things that were nagging her body were beginning to disappear and she was even starting to feel muscles again.

What a cool feeling!!

So, my challenge to you is to, in fact, start with walking if you’re doing nothing right now. It’s the absolute best place to start.

But don’t stay there forever. I don’t care how old you are, you need to start gradually incorporating movements that target all 6 aspects of your fitness. And if you’d rather not figure it out on your own, I would love nothing more than to lead you through my Jumpstart 30 program, because I will make sure we do it all in a safely designed progression.

Alright friend, thanks for hanging out with me today! Listen, I don’t ask for much, in fact all the tips and value I give you on this show are all completely free to you. But one thing I’m going to ask from you today is that if you haven’t yet, please just go leave us a 5-star rating and a short review on your listening platform, especially if you’ve been loving this. I read every review, I appreciate your kind words so much, and it really does help us grow the show.

Thank you so much, and I’ll meet you back here on Friday for another Ask Megan episode.

More Resources & Links

The Jumpstart 30 Program for Beginners

Need help getting started! Get Megan’s FREE 5-Day Jumpstart Tips guide!

FREE 5-Day Core Tune Up - A free mini-course to dramatically improve your functional core strength, create better alignment, and relieve back and hip pain for good!

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Trainer, nutrition coach, and Christian mom — in a culture that’s obsessed with “gym-selfies” and a number on the scale, I’m passionate about helping moms discover what it feels like to actually love their bodies and thrive in them.
Read More About Megan
Hi! I’m Megan.
Self-Care Simplified is for Christian moms that want to be equipped and encouraged to take simple steps towards the healthy life you want for yourself and the people you love.
Be sure to subscribe to Self-Care Simplified wherever you listen to your favorite podcast.
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Trainer, nutrition coach, and Christian mom — in a culture that’s obsessed with “gym-selfies” and a number on the scale, I’m passionate about helping moms discover what it feels like to actually love their bodies and thrive in them.
Read More About Megan
Hi! I’m Megan.
take the quiz
Self-Care Simplified is for Christian moms that want to be equipped and encouraged to take simple steps towards the healthy life you want for yourself and the people you love.
Be sure to subscribe to Self-Care Simplified wherever you listen to your favorite podcast.
RECENT posts