A Beginner’s Guide to Walking for Fitness

December 06, 2019

A woman is ready for walking
JayDee Huppert

If you have goals to increase your fitness level this year, walking is a great simple option. With experts recommending at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, this can easily be achieved with brisk walking.  Get that heart rate up to burn those extra calories and maximize the benefits of a walking program.  

How to get started with your walking program today.

  • Just do it.  Don’t wait for an ideal time to get started.  Simply get started and do what you can each day. If you are limited by endurance, pain, or fatigue, start with what you can tolerate and build from there.  Remember, something is always better than nothing!
  • Set small achievable goals.  Don’t overwhelm yourself by focusing on big end goals. While setting goals is important for staying on track, make sure to break them down into actionable steps.  For example, start by walking 5 minutes a day at a comfortable pace.  Then, build time, distance, and intensity as you feel stronger and ready.  
  • Don’t be afraid to push yourself.  As you gain confidence and momentum, start scheduling regular increments of walking into your week.  Block certain times in your day to get out for a walk.  Scheduling it into your day will help you remember that exercise and your health is a priority in your life.  Even try to go above and beyond the 150 minute goal (when you are ready) and see what you are capable of!
  • Share your goals with others.  Telling other’s what you hope to achieve helps keep you accountable, whether it’s a social media group, friend, or family member.   For an even bigger accountability bonus, find a walking partner to share in your fitness journey.

Ways to stay on track when you need an extra boost of motivation.

  • Track it.  Pedometers, activity trackers, and exercise apps are all great ways to track your improvement.  When you see the progress you are making, you will feel motivated to keep working toward your goals.
  • Ask for help.  Remember those people you told your goals to when you started?  Tell them you’re struggling and ask them to help you stay on track.  Whether that means some tough love or kind encouragement let your community lift you up.
  • Get other’s involved.  Exercise, especially walking, can be more fun when you can chat and share in the process.  Get your family and friends involved or take a dog for a daily walk (borrow a neighbor’s if you don’t have your own).  Anything to make it more exciting.
  • Sign up for walking events.  Paying money to walk in an event with other people is a great way to boost your motivation.  You can then work on increasing your walking pace and distance for the big day.

How to make your walking routine a habit.

Making your fitness goals a habit is the ultimate goal.  Here’s how to do it:

  • Be consistent.  To make walking automatic, you have to consistently do just that.  It will teach your body and brain to expect and appreciate it each week.
  • Associate your new activity with good emotions.  Don’t let feelings of dread and overwhelm be primarily what you feel when it comes to exercise.  Even if it takes some effort, associate excitement and other positive emotions with your routine.  
  • Keep it interesting.  If you need ways to make your walking routine more fun, invite a friend or download your favorite podcast or audio book to look forward to.
  • Recognize your triggers that will throw you off track.  Are there certain activities or atmospheres that will throw you off tack? This might include eating certain foods that make you feel sluggish or getting hooked to a binge worthy TV show.  With awareness of these triggers, make sure to avoid them, at least until after you finish your walk.

Staying safe while walking.

  • Listen to your body.  If you develop pain or discomfort, listen to your body and modify you program as needed.
  • Walk in well lit, safe areas.  Try to walk during the day if possible, otherwise consider walking on a treadmill inside.  
  • Stay hydrated.  Drink plenty of water.  Plus, refuel your with good foods such as whole grain, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Be nice to your feet.  Wear well-fitting shoes with good support if you need it. 
  • Others. Always let someone know where you’re going. Plus, carry a cell phone for emergencies.  It’s always better to be prepared.

Conclusion

Walking for wellness is a great way to start putting your health first.  Walking is such a normal part of everyday life.  In fact, our bodies are meant to regularly engage in walking.  With the high health risks associated with being sedentary, a walking program is just what you need to get moving and maximize your quality of life. 

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