Wow, just how hard is it to establish good habits?
It's been something that's consumed my mind for some time now and during a recent trip to North Yorkshire my friend introduced me to James Clear's book - Atomic Habits. In his book, Clear emphasises the need to look at processes and not goals in order to establish habits that will serve us well. He's created a system to make habit forming easy. The crux seems to be about changing the way we see ourselves and approaching change from the perspective of 'identity' 'who do I want to be' whilst making tiny steps which incrementally, over time, create compound growth.
Anyway, it is fascinating stuff and it's the book that has propelled me to start walking! I have been eager to establish a fitness routine but reluctant to start running for fear of damage to my knees. I was thinking, how can I incorporate 'walking with intention' into daily life to 1. Lose a few pounds over time and 2. Strengthen my body and resolve. 3. Kick start the day with an endorphin boost to improve mood and productivity.
Luckily there's a field next to my house so I've resolved to start glugging water on waking, putting training wear on and heading out the door before the kids wake up.
Armed with a pedometer I now know it's approx 600 steps per track lap. The plan is to walk at a fast pace 4 laps, 4 times a day. At this plan I can walk 2,400 steps x 4 laps or 9,600 steps with intention per day. For arguments sake if we round that off to 10,000 steps - which depending on briskness of step - will result in a 400 to 500 calorie burn and when it is commonly known that 1 pound of weight equates to 3,500 calories, then in order to lose 1 pound per week I will need to walk 10000 steps per day or these 16 laps of the field!
So yeah let's see how we go eh. I forgot to say I'm walking barefoot too.
Let's look at some of the benefits of barefoot walking:
1. Research shows that direct contact with the earth can have positive impact on a number of physiological measures from helping it improve sleep, lowering stress and reducing pain.
2. 'Grounding', research suggests, is pretty crucial to health. Direct physical contact with the earth has antioxidant effects. The earth's surface has a negative charge and is constantly generating electrons that could neutralise free radicals (which create oxidative damage and inflammation). Since the earth has a greater charge than our body we end up absorbing millions of electrons from it which in turn decoagulates blood making it free flowing and more oxidised.
3. Walking stimulates the vagus nerve, the largest nerve of the autonomic nervous system; a strong vagal tone helps us relax faster and thus can be helpful for stress management and boy do we all need a bit of that right now!
A report in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine confirmed these benefits:
“It is well established, though not widely known, that the surface of the earth possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons as a consequence of a global atmospheric electron circuit. Wearing shoes with insulating soles and/or sleeping in beds that are isolated from the electrical ground plane of the earth have disconnected most people from the earth’s electrical rhythms and free electrons.”
Happy walking! 💓