Stocking up on bikinis and maillots for Memorial Day weekend may be the best gymspiration there is. Who doesn’t want to look their absolute fittest when dressed in mere inches of spandex at the beach? No need to clear your schedule in favor of booking back-to-back cult classes—according to celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, whose clients include Behati Prinsloo, Amanda Seyfried, and Ariana Grande, shaping your best body can really be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. “There is no better aerobic exercise [than walking],” says Pasternak, who asks his clients to fit in 12,000 to 14,000 steps a day. An equipment-less and joint-friendly form of movement, walking can be done “anywhere, anyhow, anytime.”
This advice comes on the heels of recent studies, published by the National Institute of Health, which have proven that in addition to lowering stress as well as your risk of a heart attack, developing type 2 diabetes, and experiencing strokes, walking for 20 minutes a day statistically leads to better sleep and, according to a study published on Monday, can reduce the chances of contracting 13 different types of cancer when performed for at least two and a half hours per week at a moderate or faster pace. Though, the farther you walk and the quicker your pace, the more calories you will burn.
With the weather taking a turn for the better, there’s certainly no better time to put the world’s oldest form of exercise into practice. As the temperature rises, Pasternak reasons that you “don’t want to be inside doing Spin classes and boot camp,” especially while jetting off on summer vacation. Merely walking around can be enough movement to supplant a calorie-torching trip to the gym. And it can be as easy as taking phone calls on foot or opting to pick up your morning caffeine from the slightly less convenient, but better, coffee shop. “I got rid of my coffee machine at my house, so it forces me to walk to get coffee in the morning. I start my day with 12,000 steps. It’s very meditative,” he says.
While Pasternak reminds us that nothing can replace the strengthening effects of resistance exercise (he recommends pairing 10,000 to 12,000 steps each day with five sets of 20 repetitions of sculpting exercises like stiff-leg deadlifts or reverse lunges), he does concede that you don’t have to work up a heart-racing sweat on foot for your walk to be effective. “Speed is irrelevant.” The key to success, he says, is a Fitbit—what he has found to be the most accurate step counter. With the distance-tracking device tucked into your pocket or secured onto your wrist, you’re also freed from being tethered to your phone for maximum stress relief. Comfortable footwear, too, is encouraged. “If your feet are happy, you’re more likely to walk more.” With fashion’s new sneakerhead obsession reaching its full stride beneath day dresses, evening gowns, and slouchy suits, it all adds up to a step in the right direction.
May 18, 2016
By Mackenzie Wagoner, photo by Cass Bird