Whether you’re trying to get more active, to improve your mental health, or simply to get out of the home a little more often, walking is of tremendous benefit. It improves your energy levels, helps you get a more fulfilling sleep, and it gives you a chance to get away from the daily struggle of it all and have a little alone time. But, if you want to maximize the daily good that walking can become, then you’re going to want to learn a few lessons to make every step a little easier.
Dress for the walk, not for the look
First, let’s address some of the most common complaints about walking regularly. One of those is the discomfort you can feel being exposed to the elements and or wearing the wrong clothes for walking. Don’t just throw on any old outfit and head out. You’re likely to be sweating, even in cold weather, so make sure you have something tight and breathable on, like a spandex pair of shorts and a sports vest, even if it’s beneath a coat and a pair of super-warm leggings. Make sure you’re ready for the weather, as well. If it’s likely to get colder or hotter during the walk, then have a rucksack that you can easier retrieve a layer from or store a layer inside.
Don’t give your heels hell
Foot pain is all too common for those who walk or run regularly, especially when it comes to exercise. You might not be too concerned with walking form when you’re going at your usual pace. When you start going faster, however, make sure that your entire foot makes contact with the ground but not all at once. Start with the heel, roll forward onto the ball, then lift. Don’t forget to look in an online shoe collection for footwear that thoroughly supports your whole foot while giving your toes some space to breathe. After the walk, give your feet a little massage or even a soak in a footbath to help ease any muscle soreness.
Whether they were one of the initial reasons you started walking or they simply became a side benefit, the positive health effects of getting active shouldn’t be ignored, they should be maximized. Any amount or pace of daily walking is good for you, but if you want a real cardiovascular exercise, then you should push yourself a little harder. Rather than trying to keep up a higher speed during the whole duration of the walk, however, think about taking interval walks. This method balances short bursts of speed with slightly longer breaks involving a slower speed. It’s an effective form of exercise, whether it’s for burning calories, improving blood pressure or simply getting that endorphin rush that can keep things interesting.
Give yourself a challenge
When you start getting used to walking and it becomes an easy everyday ritual, then why not make it a little harder? If you want to focus on the health benefits, then you have to constantly keep pushing new ground. Otherwise, you’re going to stop feeling the benefits and your progress may stagnate and even reverse. There are plenty of great walking apps that can help you measure the distance you’ve walked, the pace you kept up, and even the time you managed on different walks. Keep track of the details, and ensure you keep improving.
Put some sounds on
Even when you’re turning it into a workout, there’s no doubt that walking can be a little monotonous. If you start getting bored, you’ll lose motivation, get frustrated with the grind, and think about cutting your walk off early. Don’t do that. There are a lot of different ways to find motivation, but one of the most effective is slipping in your earbuds. Listen to music that makes you feel empowered, energetic, and excited on your walk. Sometimes, music doesn’t do the trick and you want a little more mental stimulation to chew on. When that’s the case, load up your phone with podcasts or audiobooks. Before long, you could be looking forward to the walk because it gives you the opportunity to pick up on a particularly great listen.
Bring a buddy along
Even more effective for some people, when it comes to motivation, is the help that some company can offer. There are a lot of different ways that exercising with a friend helps you not only stick to it but do even better than you would alone. For one, if you have company you enjoy, you’re a lot more likely to enjoy the walk, and the distraction of their company can take your mind off the physical strain if you’re pushing yourself hard. There are studies that have even proven that walking with a friend helps you work harder than you normally would. And it keeps you accountable, too. Your friend is going to be waiting for you and you’re not going to want to let her down, so you’re going to skip your daily walk much less frequently.
Keep a drink in hand
There is nothing more uncomfortable nor more dangerous than getting dehydrated when you’re out exercising. Always make sure that you bring plenty of water with you and take the opportunity to hydrate regularly while you’re walking. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fainting, your body overheating, and you’re going to be a lot more likely to injure yourself by tearing a muscle. Look for online water bottle stores and pick one that’s refillable, easy to carry, and can contain enough water to keep you fresh through the whole walk.
Find your inclination
Before too long, interval walking is going to be a piece of cake. Even if you started off completely unused to exercise, your body will get used to it and you won’t even feel it anymore. When that’s the case, you should look at switching it up. In particular, you should start thinking about finding inclines to start climbing like hilly routes or steps. You’re going to burn more energy, you’re going to improve your range motion, and you could even end up doing a little strength toning by choosing steeper walks. Keep challenging yourself and you’ll soon have buns of steel and the toned legs of a goddess to boot.
Make it an adventure
Another reason you might start to fall out of love with the daily walk is that you’re simply sick of seeing the same places time and time again. When that happens, it’s time to expand your horizons. Start looking for new routes to explore. A lot of walking apps compare routes with other people using the app that might give you some idea. But every weekend, you should take the opportunity to go somewhere really different and a little wild. Find the walking trails through your local National Park, for instance, or try the beach if you want the challenge of sandy walking as well as a gorgeous view of the coast.
Don’t miss a step
Once you get into the habit, nothing is more important than ensuring you stick with it. Sometimes that’s a lot easier said than done, especially if you have a busy schedule from day-to-day. Even if you can’t manage your usual extended route, you should make sure that you find the little breaks during the day where you’re able to get out and stretch your legs at least a little bit. Make time for your exercise, it’s too important to miss. To make sure that you do, take a note of how much time you spend walking every day. By keeping track of your activity, it’s on your mind more often so you’re less likely to forget. When you do miss a day, make sure you note in big red pen. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about a faltered step now and then, but a little guilt can be a good motivator to not do it again.
Give yourself a goal
The end result is another big factor when it comes to motivating yourself enough to keep up with your physical activity. There are a lot of different ways to give yourself a reward for a day’s exercise, too. First of all, set yourself an end goal, whether it’s a certain time or a certain distance walked, or something more health-related, like a weight goal. Then there are short-term rewards you can give yourself: a spa bath, a trip to the cinema, a massage, a pedicure, a manicure. There are a lot of rewards you can give yourself for keeping up with the habit. When it comes to walking, just having a destination, whether it’s a friend’s home or the cinema, can compel you to keep moving, too.
Walking is one of the easiest to tackle physical and mental health. What’s more, it’s a good idea simply to get out of familiar environments. You might even make some friends on the way (especially of the furry, four-legged variety). So, what are you waiting for? Get your walking shoes on, already!
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life