Walking is one of the best forms of exercise because you can do it just about anywhere and it helps you reduce your cancer risk.
If you’re new to walking or looking to walk more, here are some tips and tricks to help you get out there enjoying yourself.
- Get your body ready
One of the great benefits of walking compared to other types of exercise is its low impact on the body.
But if you’re increasing the amount of physical activity in your weekly routine, it’s important to do so mindfully – especially if you’re new to exercise or coming back from a long break.
Some things you might consider include:
- Seeking appropriate medical advice to manage any medical conditions you might have.
- Ensuring you take time to warm-up and cool down, as well as stretch and recover.
- Improving your walking technique to avoid injuries e.g. try to roll through your steps rather than slap your feet down; maintain a neutral, upright posture; and avoid overstriding.
- Make it easier to fit into your routine
Some days, you’ll have the time to put on your exercise gear and power walk around your local park.
But on those days when you don’t have time, consider incidental walking. It can really help you increase your stamina in the long-run.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
- Hop off the train a stop early or change up where you park your car to walk the rest of the way
- Go for a walk while talking on the phone
- Go for a takeaway coffee walking date instead of sitting at the cafe
- Go for a walking meeting
- Make sure you take a full lunch break to fit in a walk in the fresh air
- Once you start, make sure you don’t stop
When it comes to exercise, people always talk about ‘consistency’.
I think the key to consistency is finding a level that you can sustain and repeat week in, week out.
It’s no good to push yourself in one session only to not be able to exercise again for a month. It’s much more beneficial if you can exercise 3 times a week.
So, find your level and build up from there.
- Try finding a walking program that matches your ability. It will give you ideas on how much you should do each week and how to gradually build up your steps or intensity.
- Dispel those excuses by doing it the night before
How many times have you wanted to get out and exercise, but found yourself stuck to the couch or glued to your phone?
How can you avoid making excuses and procrastinating?
My favoured technique is to reduce the number of decisions I have to make between thinking about exercising and getting out the door.
This is what I mean:
- If you’re a morning person, lay out your gear the night before.
- If you prefer to exercise after work, lay out your gear in the morning and don’t – I repeat – DON’T sit down when you get home!
- Keep some healthy, low-effort snacks on hand like bananas or muesli bars.
- Keep an eye on your weather app, so you can dress appropriately (more on this in my final tip).
- Dress for success
Speaking of dressing appropriately, I think that it does help to have go-to gear for all weather conditions.
It doesn’t have to be expensive stuff. It just needs to protect you from the sun, keep you warm in the cold and keep you hydrated:
- A functional backpack to carry your water bottle, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellent
- A hat that you enjoy wearing, even when you get a bit sweaty
- A long-sleeve top that protects you from the sun and keeps you warm when it’s cold (but not too warm when you get moving)
- A pair of tights with a pocket that fits your phone
- A comfortable pair of shoes that save your feet on long walks
- An umbrella that isn’t broken (we’ve all been there)
- If you’ve got a doggie friend, then a lead and harness you feel confident using (don’t forget the doggie waste bags!)
- And, if you’re so inclined, a pedometer, FitBit or exercise watch to track your progress
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I hope that these tips spark off some ideas to help you walk more in your life.
In the meantime, you can learn more about how physical activity reduces your cancer risk.