Monday Move

A Simple Workout That Makes a Huge Difference

Go back to basics for your body and brain

I had a big and difficult decision to make last week, and as the little bubble of anxiety in my gut grew bigger and bubblier as the deadline approached, I could just feel it in every cell: I had to move. I was accomplishing absolutely nothing by refreshing Twitter and checking for new Slack DMs, and my body knew my only option was to expel the nervous energy on a walk.

I downloaded a calming playlist, set off on a brisk pace, and spent a few minutes just moving fast, breathing deeply, and doing a body scan to tap into the present moment. I’m not a big meditator, but I knew I could use this walk for something more than just exercise, and those brief moments of mindfulness were enough to bring me back to myself. I trudged up the hilly paths of Green-Wood Cemetery, noticing the small buds appearing on the trees and reflecting on just how different this spring might be from the last one. I marveled that all of this — fresh air, green spaces, movement — was free, right there for the taking whenever I needed it. I knew I’d be okay no matter what final choice I came to.

I know this is annoyingly simple — go for a stupid walk! — but sometimes in moments of crisis those basic tenets of self-care (drink some water, get some sunlight, move your body) somehow go straight out the window, and you reach for everything that makes you feel worse. I’m not about to tell you that I didn’t also have one or two too many drinks just a few hours after this magical walk, or wake up at 4:00 a.m. and spend an hour doomscrolling, but still — the walk really helped. And of course, even if you aren’t facing down an existential crisis, walking is just plain good for you. One study found that women who walk 4,400 steps per day have a 41% lower risk of premature death than those who get fewer than 2,700, and the pace doesn’t even matter. Fast, slow; steps are steps.

If you’re able to walk, you don’t need me to tell you how to do it. Just breathe and go, for however long you can and at whatever pace feels good. Walk toward something good.

For more science-backed, simple workout ideas, check out this story:

As Elemental’s executive editor and an ACE-certified personal trainer, I’m suggesting a simple move each Monday to start your week on the right foot. Have a great one.

Editor and writer. Past: Elemental, Real Simple, Refinery29, SELF. Certified personal trainer; prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist. Cat & person mom.

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