Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
To succeed at anything we need to establish goals – to know what we hope to achieve and how long we are going to take to achieve it. It takes at least three weeks to establish a new habit so if you are a new walker you will need to commit to at least this length of time to make your walking part of your daily schedule.
Research shows that to benefit from your walking you need to walk for three and a half hours every week. You can achieve this by taking a half hour walk every day or reduce the number of days but walk for a longer time. It is a good idea to have a plan, to know what you hope to achieve and in what time frame you hope to achieve it.
Before you draw up a plan you need to establish:
Why you are walking?
If you are walking to improve fitness it is necessary to walk for at least thirty minutes at a moderate walking pace every day. A moderate walking pace is four miles per hour. If you are walking to lose weight you will need to either increase your walking time or quicken your pace.
Where can I walk?
If you can start your walk from your home it will take less time from your day but if you have to travel to a park or track you will need to factor the time needed to get there into your schedule
When can I walk?
You need to schedule a time to walk into your daily agenda. Morning time is good as the exercise will energise you for the day. It is not necessary to walk all of your daily commitment in one go. You can break your daily thirty minutes into three ten minute sessions and gain the same benefits. Use a reminder on your cell phone to remind you as it is easy to forget in the early days of establishing your new walking routine.
Can I walk every day?
Walking every day establishes the habit. Missing days makes it harder to get out the next day. However walk when you can. Three days per week is better than none.
When you have decided why, when and where you are going to walk you are ready to set your goals. Do not aim too high. Start low and build up. Your goal should challenge you but do not set yourself up for failure by trying to do too much.
Write down what you hope to achieve in positive language on a large sheet of paper and display it in a prominent place so you can be reminded of your goal.
With the help of your diary schedule your daily walks.
Start a log of your progress, the date and the length of time you walked every day. Make a progress chart and display it where you can see it and reaffirm yourself.
Enlist the help of friends and family to achieve your goal.
Finally reward yourself at the end of every week. Decide in advance what your treat will be. When you have achieved your goal celebrate and tell everybody!