Going for a walk. For those of us without mobility limitations, it should be one of the easiest things in the world, but often, everything else in life seems to get in the way. Taking a full 30 minutes just to walk—to wander—with no real destination in mind? Who has time for that anymore?
Sometimes, as adventurers, driving two hours to a trailhead for a four-hour hike can seem feasible, but spending an early morning, lunch hour or after work “me time” on a walk can seem frivolous.
But there are many benefits to walking. According to an article in Experience Life, walking strengthens your heart and lungs, boosts your metabolism, aids digestion, enhances longevity of life and supports mental health.
Every year, on the first Wednesday in April, National Walking Day encourages people to get off the couch, get outside and participate in activity. This year, I marked the occasion by testing a new piece of tech gear specifically designed to create a healthier lifestyle.
The Apple Watch Series 8 and SE help users understand and improve their health and safety through advancements like the enhanced Workout app, Crash Detection and sleep stage tracking. Fall Detection can monitor if you take a tumble during a workout and Fitness+ programs like “Time to Run” and “Get Ready for Snow Season” can help you prepare for upcoming adventures.
The Apple Watch is set up to encourage 30 minutes of walking every day, with the middle green ring reflecting minutes of brisk activity completed per day. The inner blue ring references how many times in the day you stood for at least one minute per hour. The outer red ring shows calories burned—it was my most difficult goal to meet, but with a visual reference, I quickly out-walked, out-burned and out-stood the weeks before I had an Apple Watch.
When starting a workout, there are options for outdoor and indoor walks, as well as a ton of other activities. Better yet, when I started walking quickly, the Watch caught on, asking me if I’d like to track my workout. As someone who (often) forgets to press “go,” this helped me track how close I was to “closing my rings.”
Of course, the Apple Watch is a lot more than a fitness tracker; this Watch can control everything from my Spotify playlist and my Wallet to my calls and emails. When I tip-toed into yoga class or needed some peace on an outdoor jaunt, I appreciated Theatre mode, which sets the Watch to silent and darkens the screen, allowing me to disconnect from the constant technology in my daily life.
For adventurers on a budget or first-time Apple Watch wearers, the SE has almost all the same features, except some advanced health features like ECG, temperature sensing and blood oxygen monitoring, and the admittedly awesome Always-On display. Both watches have a new compass app that allows hikers to leave Waypoints to Backtrack if they are in the backcountry.
Possibly the coolest aspect of the Apple Watch—and what has really motivated me to move my feet—is the “Time to Walk” program on Fitness+. Without really knowing what it was, I clicked on episode one: Dolly Parton. (To be honest, I’m not a huge fan, but I pressed play anyways—and I’m so glad I did.)
Over the next 25 minutes, Dolly Parton shared stories, songs and photographs from her life. I found myself tearing up as she talked, even though I knew basically nothing about her before. I wanted to keep walking to hear more. Pictures filled the corners of my Apple Watch, which gave a soft buzz to alert me to glance at my wrist before the image disappeared from the screen.
Next, I tuned into the episode with Shawn Mendes. I felt like he was walking alongside me as he commented on the bikers, hikers and views on his trail. It was enlightening to listen to his words and his music as I trekked.
Now, I've walked with Anderson Cooper, Gabrielle Union, Becky G, Simu Liu and Malala Yousafzai. Some of these people I knew quite a bit about; others, next to nothing. Throughout each episode, I learned new things about the speaker and reflected on my own life. There are still so many episodes left to listen to, and I hope Apple will continue adding more. I’ll discover new people, perspectives and places over the upcoming days, weeks and months while I stroll through my neighbourhood, walk new trails and stretch my legs.
No matter what you listen to or how you get outside, I hope you can remind yourself how worthwhile it is to spend half an hour in nature. You might be surprised at how it clears your mind, refreshes your body and calms your soul.
All that, just from a little walk.