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Preparing to March: Increase Your Step Count as the Fighting Season Approaches!


Walking is a seemingly simple and often underestimated activity that holds the key to numerous health benefits that can transform your overall well-being. From burning calories to strengthening your heart and bones, walking is a powerful yet accessible exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels. That’s exactly why we’ve launched the Viking Challenge with walking before we increase the intensity leading up the inaugural Viking Games. 


History of Walking: A Stroll Through Time




Early Man was Made to Walk

Long before the Vikings roamed the Earth, humans were walking creatures. Our ancestors walked for survival, to hunt, gather, and explore new territories. Walking was an integral part of daily life, shaping our bodies and minds. Today, the echoes of this ancient practice persist, reminding us that walking is not just an exercise but a fundamental aspect of our evolutionary heritage.


Friedrich Nietzsche, the renowned philosopher, was a fervent advocate for walking. He often used walking as a means to stimulate creativity and free his mind. As you embark on your walking journey, channel Nietzsche's spirit and embrace the profound connection between physical movement and intellectual liberation.


Benefits of Walking: A Viking’s Secret to Wellness

- "Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far." – Thomas Jefferson

1. Burning Calories Like a Viking Warrior

Walking might seem less intense than a Viking battle, but its calorie-burning prowess is noteworthy. Whether strolling through scenic landscapes or conquering urban pathways, walking can help you maintain or lose weight. The amount of calories burned depends on factors like walking speed, distance covered, terrain, and your weight. Embrace the Viking spirit and calculate your calorie conquests with a fitness tracker of choice.


Endurance on the March is Vital

2. Strengthening the Heart: The Warrior's Endurance

A healthy heart is crucial, and walking plays a vital role in cardiovascular fitness. Just as Viking warriors relied on their endurance, walking at least 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease. Channel your inner Viking spirit and venture forth on daily heart-strengthening quests.



3. Lowering Blood Sugar: A Nordic Wellness Ritual

After a hearty Norse feast (yum), a post-meal walk can help towards maintaining optimal blood sugar levels. Studies suggest that short walks after meals can significantly impact blood sugar, making it a beneficial practice for modern warriors combating the challenges of sedentary lifestyles.


4. Easing Joint Pain: The Viking's Shield Against Arthritis

Yup, you heard that right. As I’m getting older, my joints are getting noisier. So in the realm of physical health, protecting your joints is paramount. Walking, akin to a Viking's strategic defence, helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles supporting your joints. For those facing the challenges of arthritis, walking 5 to 6 miles a week may serve as a shield, reducing pain and preventing its onset. It’s why I love to say: ‘Movement is medicine!’


Always remember to make it Epic!

5. Boosting Immune Function: Viking Defences Against Illness

I just hate getting ill. And even though winter is receding, it’s imperative to fight against the common cold and the flu. Just as Vikings defended their territories, walking can fortify your immune system. Studies have shown that a daily walk can reduce the risk of colds and flu. Embrace the Viking spirit and embark on your daily walk, building a robust defence against seasonal invaders.


6. Energy Boost: The Viking Elixir

Skip the Red Bull! 

When weariness strikes, a walk might be more potent than a cup of coffee. Walking increases oxygen flow and hormone levels, including cortisol and epinephrine, providing a natural energy boost. Unleash your Viking vigor by choosing a walk over a mundane energy fix.


7. Mood Enhancement: A Viking's Mental Fortitude

Mental health is integral to overall well-being, and walking can be a potent mood enhancer. Studies reveal its positive impact on reducing anxiety, depression, and negative moods. Channel the strength of Viking resilience by incorporating brisk walks into your routine, experiencing the mental upliftment they bring.


That’s why I like to say that walking = integration. It’s a time to gather our thoughts and allow them to make sense of the world. I like to try and mix it up with solo walks without technology as well as listening to podcasts and audiobooks. 

But seriously, try going on a walk without headphones and notice your surrounding, the environment and take it all in. 


"An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." - Henry David Thoreau

8. Life Extension: The Viking's Quest for Immortality

Walking at a faster pace may hold the key to extending your life. Research suggests that brisk walking reduces the risk of overall death, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. As a modern Viking, stride with purpose and add more years to your epic journey.

(Or maybe it was just a swift walk away from danger?!?!)

"Walking is man's best medicine." - Hippocrates

9. Leg Toning: Crafting the Warrior Physique

Strengthening the muscles in your legs (because I know you skipped leg day!!) can be as empowering as forging Viking weaponry. Walking, especially in hilly terrain or with added resistance, tones and strengthens your leg muscles. To sculpt a warrior's physique, complement your walks with cross-training activities and resistance exercises.

10. Creative Thinking: The Viking's Path to Innovation

The act of walking itself can be a catalyst for creativity. Studies show that walking enhances creative thinking, offering a unique combination of physical activity and mental stimulation. Invite your colleagues on a walking meeting, unleashing your inner Viking innovator.


"All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking." – Friedrich Nietzsche

Embrace the Journey: The Viking Challenge

As you embark on your walking journey, consider joining the Viking Challenge this month. Embrace the spirit of Norse mythology, channel the resilience of Viking warriors, and let each step become a testament to your commitment to physical health.


From Viking to Warrior: Rucking into the Next Level

"Meandering leads to perfection." – Lao Tzu
Rucking: Modern or Ancient a Soldier Needs their Pack

To truly amplify your walking experience, consider the Warrior-inspired practice of rucking. Rooted in military training, rucking involves walking a set distance while carrying weight in a backpack. As you ruck, visualize yourself on a mythical Viking quest, each step carrying the weight of ancient tales and the promise of physical transformation.

In the British Military we call it tabbing but Rucking seems to be a more recognised term for it these days.



Rucking Benefits: A Warrior's Arsenal

Rucking isn't just a physical challenge; it's a mental and communal experience. Embrace the Viking within and unlock the following benefits:

  • Strength and Endurance: Research shows that rucking improves strength, endurance, and muscle power.

  • Bone Health: Low-impact rucking serves as strength training for bones, combating conditions like osteopenia.

  • Balance Enhancement: Like a Viking navigating treacherous terrain, rucking enhances balance, reducing the risk of falls.

  • Training for Everything: Rucking is the ultimate functional fitness, preparing you for various physical challenges.


How to Get Started with Rucking: A Viking's Preparation

Rucking, like any new endeavor, requires a gradual approach. Whether you're a novice or seasoned walker, follow these guidelines to initiate your rucking practice:

  • Choose the Right Rucksack: Opt for a backpack with wide, padded straps and a hydration pocket. Stuart’s choice is the Rush series by 5.11 Tactical and Cameron swears by his Built for Athletes backpack. Both look great with your Viking Challenge Finishers Patch!

  • Determine the Weight: Start with 3-5% of your body weight for beginners and gradually increase the load.

  • Select Proper Footwear: While Vikings may have worn heavy boots, choose comfortable, supportive shoes for rucking.

  • Involve Your Furry Companions: Just as Vikings had loyal companions, bring your dogs along for an extra challenge and camaraderie. Or find someone with a strong beard like Cam…


11 Strategies for Increasing Your Step Count:

Bring a Buddy!
  1. Take the Stairs: Opt for stairs instead of elevators or escalators whenever possible. This engages your leg muscles and adds to your step count.

  2. Walk Breaks at Work: Incorporate short walking breaks during your workday. Stand up, stretch, and take a brief stroll around your office or building.

  3. Morning or Evening Walks: Schedule dedicated walking time in the morning or evening. This ensures you start or finish your day with a refreshing walk. It’s a great way to catch up with your partner, loved one, a friend or even your kids.

  4. Use a Pedometer or Fitness Tracker: Track your daily steps with a pedometer or fitness tracker. Set step goals and gradually increase them for motivation. I love to quote Peter Drucker: ‘what gets measured gets managed’ and it’s super true. You’ll find that as you start measuring your steps, you’ll pay more attention to them and likely increase them. (the same is also true if you track your diet and calories)

  5. Walking Meetings: Conduct walking meetings instead of sitting in a conference room. This promotes physical activity while fostering creativity.

  6. Socialize on Foot: Plan walking catch-ups with friends or family. It's an excellent way to bond while staying active.

  7. Explore Nature Trails: Choose scenic routes or nature trails for your walks. Enjoying the outdoors adds variety to your routine.

  8. Interval Walking: Alternate between brisk walking and slower-paced intervals. This adds intensity to your walk and enhances cardiovascular benefits.

  9. Lunchtime Walks: Utilize your lunch break for a stroll. It's a great way to break up the day and boost your step count.

  10. Walking Apps and Challenges: Use walking apps or participate in step challenges. Many apps offer features that make walking fun and competitive. So if you’ve not already signed up to the Viking Challenge, there’s still time!!! Hint Hint.

  11. Park Further Away: Opt for parking spaces that are farther away from your destination. This simple yet effective strategy naturally increases your daily step count. Whether you're heading to work, the grocery store, or any other location, the extra distance to and from your parked spot contributes to your overall walking goals. Embrace this opportunity to add more steps to your routine while also enjoying the benefits of a brisk walk. Over time, this habit not only enhances your step count but also becomes an effortless way to incorporate physical activity into your daily life. Personally this has become such an ingrained habit that I love. It also means that I often miss the parking queue and always get a nice space.

  12. Finish your workout at the gym with 10 minutes uphill walking on the treadmill. A great way to cool down, get your heart rate down and increase your step count is to hop on the treadmill once you finish your workout and walk for 10 minutes on a slight incline. This also has the added benefit of cooling your body temperature which means that if you’re showering post gym, you won’t get out and immediately start sweating… If you know, you know. Try doing some breathing exercises too to down regulate your body and mood before jumping into the next task.


A few fun ways to increase your steps:

  1. Get a dog. Nuff said. Woof

  2. Walk a neighbours dog.

  3. Chase a cat next time you see one.

  4. Play with your kids, nieces or nephews.

  5. Pretend you are Phoebe from Friends, next time you go on a run…





But seriously, walking is great and underrated. I like to say that we’re understepped and have a personal goal of getting out on a daily walk with my wife and a heavy backpack. It give us some time to catch up and spend time together in nature, gets in that all important vitamin D, gets some fresh air into the lungs and gets you moving, away from a desk to help counter the horrendous effects of sitting all day. 


"I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering." - Henry David Thoreau

See you on the flip side.


Stuart

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