Depending on the dog, you might walk more slowly than you would on your own. But if you want to bring in a little more intensity to your dog walk, you can amp it up by doing bodyweight movements—think squats, lunges, or jumping jacks—while your canine companion stops for potty breaks, says Montes.
8. You might ease your eye pain.
When you stare at a screen all day, your range of focus narrows to the few feet in front of you. This fatigues the muscles that help the eye focus, contributing to digital eyestrain. While this usually doesn’t harm your vision in the long run, it can contribute to symptoms such as headaches, sore eyes, and blurred vision.
Strolling outdoors, however, “requires that you use long-range vision, as well as constant scaling of obstacles or terrain out in front of you and on either side,” Miller says. The more often you observe what’s going on in the wider world, the better your brain and eyes work together to process it, according to a small 2019 study in PLoS Biology.
9. It’s low-key enough to squeeze into a busy day.
Unlike other exercises, you might not get sweaty—so you don’t always have to schedule a shower between that and your workday, Amshoff points out. If you’re working from home, it offers a welcome escape, either for a quick midday break or as a way to start or end the workday. And you might not even need to change clothes—just swap your slippers or work shoes for well-fitting walking or running shoes, she says.
You can also use brisk walking to run errands or as a warm-up before another physical endeavor, whether that’s another workout or a manual task like snow shoveling, Montes says. Or, multitask like Amshoff with her audiobooks and calls, or Dragone, who often listens to business podcasts while she walks.
However, there’s also a huge benefit to, at least sometimes, turning off all your inputs and simply giving yourself silence and space, Carter says. Especially in a year like this one, some peace and quiet represent a serious form of self-care.
10. But if you want to, you can crank it up a notch.
Walking counts as exercise nearly any way you do it. However, it’s helpful to designate your main purpose beforehand, Lewis says. If you’re mainly looking to unplug, leave the technology at home and don’t push the pace.
On the flip side, there are ample ways to add some intensity and turn your walks into a walking workout. For instance, do some walking-based intervals—walk faster for one minute, then slower for two, on repeat. Or put on your favorite playlist and walk easy on the verses, faster on the chorus, Stern suggests. You can also try a weighted vest, or stop every half mile and do a bodyweight circuit, Amshoff says.
11. You can use walking to connect to your community…
Most people aren’t traveling as much—if at all—these days. Fortunately, walking offers a chance to act like a tourist in your own neighborhood. You might hit those outdoor attractions you never get a chance to…