Do you need a few walking tips to get you going? It’s difficult to make yourself go walking regularly, isn’t it? Just a minute, it’s not that hard – even if you feel like a couch potato. Just trying out some of those walking tips will do it for you.
Let’s get into the right mindset first. Why do you want to go walking? No, I’m not asking you why you should go walking. That’s a terrible question and puts you off as much as saying the word ‘exercise’. (Oh – can’t believe I said that dreadful word. You won’t tell anyone will you?)
Here’s a small selection of all the reasons you want to go walking. You probably want to feel less stressed, more cheerful and healthier and you want to look better. (Maybe lose a bit of weight too?) I’m doing it because I want to live longer. That’s what everyone wants isn’t it?
So we’ve done the why, the motivation. Now, what about the how? How do you get going? What gets you out of the door rather than staying comfortably in bed? Here are 21 walking tips with some easy dos and don’ts on how to get you fit. They’re ready and waiting to get you over the natural reluctance of putting your feet outside the door rather than up on the sofa.
1 The Goal That Puts You in the Right Mindset
Set yourself a goal to walk every day for a specific amount of time. Make it a very small goal to begin with – eg walk for 3 minutes. Yes, make a teeny tiny goal that anyone could do. The rush of achievement in doing it helps encourage you to keep doing it. You can increase your goal and set different goals (such as numbers of steps) as you get more into the habit.
2 A Routine Delivers Your Daily Fix of Dopamine
Fix the time when you go for your walk – eg before you get down to your day’s work, after lunch or before dinner. How about chopping it up into short chunks? Often, fixing shorter goal times works better because it’s easier to squeeze in something for a few minutes. And you can go for it two or three times a day. Do it regularly to turn it into a routine. Your body will remember the time to get its feel good fix.
My brother used to say he got fidgety legs if he didn’t go for his daily walk. It makes it so much easier to stick to the routine. Carrelyn says setting a goal of a number of steps has really helped her get into a routine. Now she wants to go for her walk and tick off her goal. From a standing start, she’s knocked up an average of over 8 thousand steps a day. Now that’s impressive!
3 Ready, Steady, Walking Tip to Go
Set out your clothes and shoes the night before. It makes it easy to get out walking because you don’t have to think about doing it. Maybe check what the weather will be so that you know what to put out.
4 It’s a Shoe-In
Any comfortable shoes do to begin with (but not high heels). Trainers or gym shoes are good choices. If you take up walking regularly, you might benefit from buying a pair of walking shoes. Don’t let it stop you from starting though!
5 Sock it to Them
Make sure your socks fit and aren’t too tight or too thick for the shoes you’re wearing. Better to avoid tights (pantyhose) as the elastic in them tends to scrunch up your toes. Choose cotton or wool socks as they’ll help you avoid blisters and sweaty feet.
6 Walk on Water
Have a drink of water before you set out. Have another one when you get back. If you’re out for a longer walk take water with you and swig it from time to time. Dehydration makes you feel terrible. Water and walking really do go together.
7 Don’t Be Weatherbeaten
According to the weather, put out your sunglasses or a raincoat ready to take with you. Maybe you’ll need sun tan cream or waterproof footwear. Careful of wellies as they can give you blisters. Do you need something warm as well? Gloves perhaps? Take a small backpack so that you can take stuff off if you get too hot or put it back on as you cool down. You’ll enjoy walking whatever the weather if you’re wearing the right kit.
8 Don’t Count on Yourself – Your Phone’s Your Friend
Make sure you’ve got your phone or other device for counting steps/distance. Keep note of your steps or distance walked and time taken each day. It’s great when you see that you really did walk a little bit further than yesterday or last week or that you did the same distance but a bit quicker. You don’t know you’ve improved if you don’t measure it. (And that means you don’t get to celebrate your improvements either.)
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9 Pace Yourself but Act Pushy
Start walking slowly and then speed up over the days or weeks. There’s no rush. Go at your own pace. But aim to push yourself a little bit each day. You’ll find it builds up over time.
10 Work Out the Best Way For You to Improve
Walk further or walk faster each week. Either way you get more of a work out.
11 Tips for Making Walking More Effective
Try doing ‘intervals’, alternating fast and slow pace. It’s very effective. Start with a really brisk 10 metres (or yards). Then go back to your normal pace. As you improve, you can do the faster bits for longer and further.
Walking up hills or steps is highly effective too. They really get your heart going more and the oxygen circulating.
Suddenly, you’re doing lots more than you thought possible. To check whether you’re walking fast enough for best results, try singing. If you can sing, you could walk a little faster. Able to talk but not sing? You’re doing great.
12 Overdoing It Isn’t Clever
Don’t overdo it. Stop and rest or just slow your pace if you are tiring. You might think that the right walking tip is to keep going. But a little rest can make all the difference. It will give you a boost and you’ll probably end up doing a little bit more than you thought you could. (And that happened to me just yesterday.)
13 Listen to Your Body
Your body talks to you all the time. Ok, it doesn’t make a load of noise. Well, it might do some clicking and creaking, but what I mean is it doesn’t scream at you. Actually it does scream at you metaphorically – in the form of pain. That’s what happens if we walk too much.
Take notice of the small niggles and those swift shooting pains that target you from time to time. You can heat them or ice them or go to an osteopath, a chiropractor or a sports masseur or even get some acupuncture. Try and solve the problems – tennis balls are really helpful for your back and can help your legs. Rolling around on a foam column can provide super relief for achey bits of your back. Keep stretching out.
Remember that it is possible to walk too much. It’s particularly easy to do when you’re taking up walking as a new routine. Listen to your body and respect your own limits. If you need a day off, take one. Or cut back from walking so far or so fast. But be honest with yourself. Overdoing any exercise can put you out of action for ages with a tear in a ligament or a muscle strain or just feeling really sore.
But if you’re reverting to your couch potato ways and doing less and less, well, you’re heading for a lot more angst as you age. Strike the right balance for you.
14 Straighten Up for Your Next Walking Tip
Your posture is really important but you need to be relaxed at the same time to make your walking easier. Check down your body as you walk. Are there any tight spots that you can relax? Can you swing your arms more loosely? Are you poking your chin forward? If so, slide your head backwards and your shoulder blades down your back to straighten up your spine right the way through to the top of your head. Align your ears directly above your shoulders with your chin parallel to the ground. Think – push your nose back and slightly up. Now try relaxing the tight bits again. It should feel easier to swing into a great walk and will improve your posture.
15 Your Feet Walk on Oxygen
Breathe rhythmically and your feet will fall into the same pattern of moving. Breathe right down into your belly for 4 steps. Feel as if you’re pushing the oxygen right down to your feet. They’ll soon feel as though they’re twinkling along on a cushion of air. Then breathe out to the same count, squeezing your navel to your backbone. Taking some deep breaths is not just a good walking tip, it’s great for your whole body,
16 Marching with the Band
Breathing isn’t the only thing that gets your feet going. Music will have your feet walking to the same tune. It’s relaxing too. Try listening to music as you walk. Match your pace to the music and you’ll be walking faster and slower without thinking about it. A steady rhythm eats up the miles.
17 Biggest Walking Tip Ever
Make your walking FUN. You can just appreciate the sheer physical sensation of walking, or you can use it to see the wonder of the world around you, the birds, the insects, people, animals, nature. Do things: listen to stories, talk to friends, skip, dance, throw sticks, jump, hop, walk on walls, run, play aeroplanes, take photos to send to family and friends. There is so much going on, and so much you can do to make it fun. So go out walking with the idea of having fun – and then you will.
18 Home Again Home Again Jiggety Jig
Do a bit of a slowdown walk as you cruise home. Try a few stretches. Next walking tip: do a victory dance. You did it! You’ve done your daily walk and you’ve celebrated. Now it’s time for a coffee or lunch or a treat of some sort.
19 Keeping Count
Put a calendar up on the wall and mark off each day that you do it with a big tick or similar. Add in the number of steps you walked and how fast you walked. Measuring your progress is a big incentive. But don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Just start again.
20 Reap Your Rewards from all these Walking Tips
The real rewards are better health, better mood, longer life and more fun. But, you don’t get that in the first few days. A good tip to get you walking is to give yourself a visible reward. Buy yourself a gold pen so that you can draw some gold stars on your calendar too or maybe you can find some of those stick-on stars.
(Awarding yourself stars is remarkably satisfying and makes you smile. It’s a great tip for getting children to do things, so why don’t you use it as your walking tip? You look at your gold stars and remind yourself to go out walking. When you get back and stick on another gold star, you can feel exceedingly smug and even smugger when you count them up. Lots of gold stars might impress your grandchildren too.)
21 Try Bribery
If gold stars don’t do it for you, try straightforward bribery. It works really well with children so why not with you? Walk for 3 days and you can guzzle some chocolate. Walk for 5 days and go buy yourself a present. When you’ve walked on a daily basis for 3 months, buy yourself some new walking shoes – after that time, you’re turning into a pro! Find what works best for you to keep you walking. (I’m aiming to get the T shirt!)
Walking Tips Work
You went out there and you did it. Your walking tips worked! Those gold stars make you laugh but also show you exactly what you’ve done. Keeping track of your statistics means you can see how you got faster, how you’re gradually gaining more energy. Ok, it didn’t feel like that to start with but it worked after a while. Now you walk further and your average steps and speed are rising all the time. Yippee! You feel healthier, trimmer and definitely more cheerful, because you’ve turned your walking into fun and games.
Working tips do work – but it’s you that does the work. Be very proud of yourself for going walking. See yourself doing it every day. That’s all it takes, a daily walk. So get out there and do your first walk and challenge yourself to walk every day.
P.S. Tell us what motivates you to get reaping the benefits of walking. Tell us how often you go walking.