Walking is an excellent form of exercise. It's simple and requires very little equipment. However, some people label it as boring, and I've noticed that walking workouts can lose favor more quickly than other potential exercise choices. Good news! There are a number of things you can do to spice up your walking regimen and, more importantly, keep it consistent for better health. Here are my four top recommendations.
How to Start and Maintain a Walking Routine
- Listen to Your Body. If you’re just starting, you may feel some aches and pains following your walks. So, make sure you are wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes that are meant for exercise. Sandals and high heels don’t make for happy feet. If you are out of breath when walking on level ground, you’re probably walking too fast. Conversation pace is the key during walking workouts. If you can walk and talk at the same time, you’re in a good zone.
- Find a Walking Buddy. This ties into the conversation pace idea. Plus, it will help motivate you on those days when you are tempted to talk yourself out of walking. Walking with a friend gives you an opportunity to talk out your daily stresses and maybe even reduce your blood pressure in the process. Another buddy you might consider is your dog. Studies show people who walk their dogs consistently lose, on average, 14 more pounds than walkers without dogs!
- Use a Pedometer. Again, this is a very simple, inexpensive but effective motivator. Try using the national campaign of 10,000 Steps a Day as a target to work toward. You can log your steps/miles, set goals and even reward yourself when you hit milestones (i.e., 50 miles, 100 miles, etc.). Just don’t make your reward food, as it defeats the purpose of the process to some degree. Keep in mind, you burn approximately 100 calories per mile, regardless of pace.
- Setting Goals. As I mentioned before, having a goal keeps you motivated. Find a pledge walk/run such as the American Heart Association Heart Walk, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation's Walk to Cure Diabetes, and other initiatives. You not only helping yourself, but also support a good cause while logging those miles.
At Mercy, we support the Stark County Heart Walk and the Akron/Canton Walk to Cure Diabetes. If you haven't yet joined a team, consider being part of our 2013 effort. Call 330-489-1168 for the Mercy Heart Walk team and 330-489-1000, ext. 2121 for Walk to Cure. If you can't participate this year, make it a goal for 2014!
Good luck with your walking workouts, and take advantage of the wonderful fall weather.