Walking every day is one of the best ways to go from a sedative lifestyle to an active one. And it can be just as good for your health as more strenuous forms of exercise. In fact, The Washington Post reports that both walking and running can help people enjoy healthier hearts and stronger bones.
Walking can help improve every aspect of your well-being on a physical, intellectual, mental, emotional, spiritual and social level.
To get to comfortably walking 10,000 steps per day, you need to make some adjustments to more than just your physical activity. It will take reframing your attitude toward exercise and a lot more. Follow these tips to start your journey to walking at least 10,000 steps every day.
Balance mindfulness with health distractions
Be mindful of yourself and what’s around you — Photo courtesy of iStock / lzf
Try to reflect and take a quick awareness check whenever you’re walking. Ask yourself, “What am I aware of in this moment?” You may be aware of the physical sensations in your body, the weather, the sound of hummingbirds, the way the sun is reflecting on a car, or the things you’re worried about.
Checking in with yourself can help you be more mindful in the present. Also, it’s okay to distract yourself while you’re walking to help the time go faster. A healthy balance of these two practices can help you enjoy exercise.
Add in more movement everywhere you go
Opportunities to move more are all around you. When you go to the grocery store, park far from the door. When you go inside the store, grab a shopping cart and make a circle around the shop before you get down to the task of actually shopping.
Try walking circles in your own backyard when you don’t feel like going far. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when you can. If your friend invites you to coffee, suggest that you two take it to go. Then stroll around the neighborhood for a catch-up chat instead of sitting in a coffeehouse.
Let music inspire your walking workouts
Listening to music will make your exercise more enjoyable — Photo courtesy of iStock / gpointstudio
Music can really be a fun way to get your body moving. Try stepping in time to a song, and it’ll pass before you know it. Also, try making walking-themed playlists. You may be surprised at how many songs somehow involve walking. Consider “These Boots Are Made for Walkin”http://www.10best.com/” by Nancy Sinatra, “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits and “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.
Participate in virtual walking challenges
Walk for fifteen minutes twice per weekday
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that exercise can be broken up throughout the day. You’re still getting 10,000 steps per day if you walk them in small bursts. Try walking for a few minutes at a time at first, then build up to walking for at least fifteen minutes at a time.
If you walk for fifteen minutes twice per day for at least five days during the week, you will be meeting the minimum recommendation for health. See the CDC’s age chart to get the specifics on the recommended exercise duration for your age group.
Track your daily steps
Use a Fitbit or your Apple Watch to track your steps — Photo courtesy of iStock / Fahroni
The best way to see the progress you are making is to track your steps every day. Popular fitness devices like Fitbit help you easily track your daily steps. You can simply look at your Fitbit device or log into the app to look at how many steps you’ve taken each day. That can help you stay on track to completing all 10,000 in a day.
Keep a daily step dairy
Start a new diary to write down your steps and also record things that affected how many steps you take each day. For example, write down the mood you were in and special things that happened on days when you got 10,000 or more steps. Write down how you are feeling and what’s going on each day, and you may see patterns emerging.
Make a reward plan and chart
The old adage “no pain, no gain” is so yesteryear. The truth is that you can have a lot of fitness gains without feeling pain. In fact, if you ever feel pain while exercising, you should stop and consult your doctor. Instead, focus on making your daily walking experience fun and pleasurable.
Make a plan to succeed and also plan to reward yourself every week for meeting your goals. Choose affordable, small rewards that make you feel good. It can be as simple as indulging in an extra-long bubble bath every week when you complete your movement goals.
Share your progress online
Find encouragement and support in your online communities — Photo courtesy of iStock / Urupong
The internet offers endless opportunities for instant community support. You can experience “likes” and more in-depth feedback with just a few clicks. Consider sharing your walking goals on your social media pages. If you share both your wins and setbacks, you’ll find that people in your life are cheering you on.
Make a commitment to get moving every day
Last, but certainly not least, the most important thing is to simply make walking a daily habit. That takes a commitment. Start by making the commitment to walk around the block each day or walking a mile at a slow pace on a treadmill.
Start with small daily goals that are easy to meet, and that will help you step up (pun intended) to the bigger goals. The important thing is to get moving even if you don’t immediately hit the 10,000 mark every day.