'An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.' - Henry David Thoreau
Although my grandmother was accustomed to cooler, softer English days, without exception, she would venture out for her daily walk despite the heat. Did it harm her? No.. she lived well into her 90s. In fact, current research would indicate that her daily walking habit probably contributed to her longevity.
We were designed to walk for miles and miles to hunt and gather our food. Yet, in modern society, we spend most of our time sitting down. That is not good for our bodies leading to a host of health problems. This is probably one of the most important reasons to make an effort to move around and go for a walk each day. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Research indicates that walking offers great health benefits, from helping you to lose weight and to de-stress to lowering your blood pressure and BMIs. And although it's seen as a convenient and easy 'keep fit' option, it can be difficult to develop a daily walking habit.
Most of us sit for our work, we eat sitting down, and to be honest all we want to do when we come home from work is plop down on the couch for a Netflix marathon until bedtime.
In other words, getting and staying in the habit of going for a walk each day can be a bit of a challenge. But that’s exactly what we need to do. We need to get in the habit of going for that walk just like we’re in the habit of brushing our teeth twice a day or taking out the trash on Tuesdays. Once it’s a well ingrained habit, it won’t be as much of a challenge to make sure we go for a walk each day.
A great place to start is to find a walking route you enjoy. It helps to make it as easy as possible. Your favourite walk may offer beautiful vistas, but if it’s a 30 minute drive there and back, you’ll be less likely to do it every single day. Instead, save that walk for the weekends and come up with something convenient and pleasant for your everyday walking routine. If you can, find a route in your own neighbourhood so you can leave right from your front door. Just lace up your shoes and start walking.
Challenge yourself to walk faster or with less effort
Taking the same route every day helps form that habit. It’s also encouraging to notice that you can walk the same loop faster or with less effort over time. It proves that you're making a difference and are getting stronger and increasingly more fit.
Listening to your favourite music, podcast or audio books is also helpful. It will make the time go by faster and give you something else to look forward to. You can even use your favourite media as a way to bribe yourself to go for your daily walk. Let’s say you have a couple of podcasts you enjoy. Save them for your walks and only let yourself listen to them while you’re walking. It’s a great incentive to get out there even on days when you’re not feeling it.
Last, but not least, consider walking with other people. Find a walking group in your area, or talk a friend or neighbour into becoming your walking buddy. Not only is it more fun to walk when you have someone to talk to, it also has some built in accountability. It’s much harder to skip a walking workout when you know that other people are waiting for you and relying on you to join them. A growing number of walking groups are meeting at the local shopping centre. It's air conditioned and flat, making walking comfortable, fast and easy.
Download an app to measure your progress
There is a growing number of apps that can encourage you and help develop your walking habit. Use these apps to map and measure your walks, set walking goals, earn rewards, and share your achievements with friends. Check out the readers choice awards for walking apps before downloading.
Why not take your smartphone with you and share your walk on social media? Develop your photography and Instagram skills with a quick online course and enjoy sharing amazing images from your walk.
Give these tips a try and see if they help you make walking a daily habit and an integral part of your health, your fitness, and your life. Download and print the free infographic below. Mount it on your fridge or noticeboard. Refer to it regularly for inspiration and encouragement.
*Choose your favourite music or podcast to listen to while walking.
*Download a walking app to measure your progress and share your achievements
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*Find more ideas and inspiration in the articles below.