Whether you want to lose weight, become more active or just be a bit healthier, there’s a free and easy way to do it; walking. Walking is underrated as a form of exercise, as you can do it no matter your age, fitness level, or time or money availability. Plus, when you walk on a regular basis you reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. The key is to stay motivated, and we’ve got four top tips to help you do exactly that.
1. Make it a habit: As with anything in life, the easiest way to do something is if it’s a habit. How often do you get in from work and slump in front of the TV without even thinking about it? You probably complete your entire morning routine on autopilot, as you haven’t really even woken up yet! In the same way, you should think of ways to include walking into your daily routine. This may mean walking part of your commute to the office, walking to the shops, using the stairs instead of the lift, leaving the car at home for short journeys or parking further away from your destination. You can also get your loved ones in on the action by encouraging your kids to walk to school and going with them, going for a family stroll after dinner, or catching up with a friend over a walk instead of going for a coffee.
2. Mix it up: Adding variety to your walks can help to keep things interesting, which is really the only way to improve your fitness levels on a long-term basis. Although everyone loves a good country walk, you don’t have to travel over fields and valleys to find a walk that sparks your interest. Towns and cities offer very rewarding walks, be they through parks, heritage trails, canal towpaths, riverside paths, commons, woodlands, heaths and nature reserves. Walk England can give you ideas for inspiring walks, while wheelchair users and parents with buggies might benefit from a look at the Walks with wheelchairs website. This means anyone can find a route to suit, so there’s no excuse for not giving it a go!
3. Join a walking group: Although you may be serious about taking care of your wellbeing, life can get in the way if you try it on your own. You can struggle to stay motivated, or even get started if you don’t know how, so it’s advisable to get a little help. Walking in a group is a great way to get started and make new friends, as well as motivate yourself to go the extra mile – sometimes literally! You can search for organised walks near you, using resources like the Walking for Health’s Walk Finder, which are aimed at people who want to become more active, but at present do little or no exercise. If you’re inactive or your wellness is affected by certain conditions, The Ramblers’ Get Walking Keep Walking website organises city walks for people like you, so there’s something for everyone.
4. Set yourself a goal: If you have a bit of a competitive streak in you, set yourself walking challenges to give you a reason to stick with it. Try to walk 1,000 steps in around 10 minutes, or walk 10,000 steps on five days a week. Pedometers are a fun way to keep track of your walking, as these can help you to work out your average daily steps and then start adding those extra steps. You’ll be fighting fit in no time.