Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
Have you ever decided to start a walking or other exercise program and maybe walked once or twice or a half dozen times but then you quit? Sure, most of us have done this before one time, or several times. So, how does one become a habitual walker? How do you stick to your walking commitment?
I have been walking pretty regularly now for about six years. I usually scale way back in the dead of winter (and use my elliptical machine), and hit the streets or trails again in the spring. I have been sidelined by surgery, minor illness, the aches and pains of getting older and by just getting so busy that it is easy to forget to walk. But, more and more, I am learning to let the breaks in my walking routine be minor and to stick to walking regularly if not religiously. Here are some tips that might help you stick to it, too:
1) Wear good shoes and socks. If you are in pain, you are not likely to look forward to your walking. Buy good walking shoes that fit you perfectly. No breaking in allowed. Get some good wicking socks and wear whatever clothes you feel are most comfortable for you to wear while walking.
2) Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day, and if you will be walking for an hour or more, or in higher temperatures, take water with you. Even mild dehydration can cause you to feel lousy and make you think you hate walking!
3) Try an mp3 player. I love mine. I listen to music and audiobooks anytime I’m walking alone. Try using just one earphone so can still hear what is going on around you, such as traffic or other people.
4) Log your walks. A walking journal is a great motivator. It is such a great reinforcement to write your mileage on a calendar or in a notebook or even in an online log. Whatever you choose, be sure to write it down. You can go back after a few weeks or even months and total your mileage to see how far you have walked.
5) Make walking physically challenging. Wherever you are in your walking habit, start to increase your time or distance a tiny bit every two weeks or so. If you are walking three times a week, maybe you want to add another walk to your schedule, or if you are walking for 20 minutes, make your walks 25 minutes.
6) Invite friends and family to join you. I love the solitude and planning time I gain while walking alone, but occasionally, I love “walking and talking” with others. As busy as we all are, a walk is one way to spend quality time with loved ones while taking care of yourself, too.
7) Make walking mentally challenging. Learn the names of trees, flowers, shrubs and grasses in your area. Memorize the street names or house facades. Learn to speak Portuguese via your mp3 player.
8) Pay attention to how great you feel! Enjoy those endorphins!
9) Tell someone about your walking commitment. My newest goal is to walk at least thirty minutes six or seven days a week. How about you? What’s your walking goal? You already know walking is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself, and it is also one of the easiest. So, join us in the Walking forum and tell us about your walking goals.