12 Tips to Start a Walking Routine You Can Stick WithBy Elisa - Jenny Craig
While adjusting your diet is a critical part of your weight loss journey, physical activity can be a great way to boost your weight loss efforts—and help maintain your progress. One of the simplest ways to stay active is to take a daily walk; not only is it safe and effective, but it’s also convenient—and free!
In addition to weight loss, walking offers other benefits:
- It boosts your mood. Walking is a light form of exercise that can improve your mood and reduce anxiety, research shows.1
- It strengthens your bones. As we age, we become more prone to osteoporosis, a condition that involves bone loss. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation,2 this is especially true for women. As a low-impact, weight-bearing exercise, walking helps to keep bones healthy by slowing age-related declines in bone density.3
- It helps curb cravings. Studies show that a walk as short as 15 minutes can reduce cravings, such as chocolate.4
- It cranks up your immune system. Research5 found that people who took a 20-minute walk five days or more per week had 43 percent fewer sick days than those who walked one day a week or less. What’s more, if the frequent walkers did get sick, they had milder symptoms and their illnesses didn’t last as long.
Ready to start moving? Use these 12 tips to start a walking routine that can help support your weight loss journey!
Tip #1: Make Walking a Part of Your Daily Routine
One of the easiest ways to walk more is to make it a daily habit. Start off by setting specific days and times when you will walk. If you are new to exercise, avoid less-realistic goals, such as walking twice a day. Unrealistic goals are more likely to deflate your spirit than challenge you to push ahead, so set attainable and measurable goals that can help you stay motivated.
Use these ideas to make walking a daily habit:
- Take a 30-minute walk before or after dinner each evening.
- Walk a few laps around the neighborhood after you drop the kids at school.
- Take a lunchtime walk a few times a week.
- Treat yourself to a gentle hike over the weekend.
Experiment with the days, times and routes that work best for your fitness level and schedule. Walking should be an enjoyable activity that motivates you to continue.
Tip #2: Find a Walking Buddy
Have your spouse, co-worker or neighbor (or your dog!) join you for a regular walking date, and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. After all, what’s better than spending time with a friend while staying on track with your fitness goals? You’ll also get the following benefits of a fitness buddy:
Accountability: With a partner, you no longer walk just for yourself. You show up on the right day and time to be there for your walking partner.
Enjoyment: Walking alone lets you process your thoughts, which is great. However, walking with a partner is not only fun—it gives you the opportunity to catch up and discuss what’s going on in your lives. Chances are the walk will go by faster than you expected and make it even easier to meet up the next time.
More miles: You may log more miles when walking with a friend. You may get so engrossed in conversation that you find yourself walking farther—and perhaps even faster—than expected.
Tip #3: Short Walks Are Better Than Nothing
Strapped for time? That’s okay. Life gets busy and overwhelming. It’s important to know that even a few minutes of activity is better than nothing. For instance, just 10 minutes of walking per day brings health benefits, research6 shows. And a new study found that 10 minutes of physical activity can also boost your mood.7
So when you’re rushing through errands and driving to the next item on your list, try taking a moment for you. Explore a new neighborhood or park for a few minutes, or park farther away so you can work in some extra steps. If you’re squeezing in a walk at work, try a walking meeting; chances are the change of scenery—in addition to the exercise—will do you and your co-worker good.
Tip #4: Find Your ‘Why’
Everyone has a reason why they want to start living a healthier lifestyle and lose weight—what’s yours? Take some time to think about the real reasons that have motivated you to adopt healthier habits—perhaps grab a pen and write them down. Here are a few idea starters:
- To have the energy you need to tackle your day.
- To ensure you’ll be able to keep up with your kids or grandkids for years to come.
- To be a role model for your children.
- To be healthier overall or relieve health issues due to excess weight.
When you are feeling a bit weary or unsure if you want to lace up those sneakers, remember your ‘Why.’ To get more inspiration, check out these motivation tips.
Tip #5: Get Good Walking Shoes
You will be even more motivated to go walking if you have shoes that are comfortable and fit correctly; properly fitted shoes can also help prevent pain and injuries. If you suffer from back, hip or knee pain, it might be worth going to a specialty shoe store to have your step assessed and get recommendations for what shoes are best for you. Keep in mind that you’ll need to replace your walking shoes periodically.
On days when you’re not feeling motivated to walk at a brisk pace, help set the mood with the right playlist. Put together a list of songs that motivate you to move and keep you going when you need a little inspiration.
Tip #7: Plan for the Weather
Get in the habit of checking the weather forecast regularly and planning your attire and walking schedule accordingly. Here are a few tips:
- Get the right layers, such as activewear sweatshirts and beanies, to keep you warm in cold weather.
- For hot days, plan to walk earlier or later in the day.
- Try to walk during the day in the winter months to take advantage of the sun’s warmth.
- If you live in an area where it’s not possible to walk outside for much of the year, consider joining a gym and using the treadmill there; or try walking at a local mall.
Tip #8: Up the Pace
Walking faster means more calories burned. So the next time you’re out on a walk, see if you can increase your pace. If you have trouble keeping a brisk pace for the entire walk, try varying your speed for a specified amount of time; or use markers such as streetlights or mailboxes. With time, you’ll build up your stamina and be able to maintain a faster pace for longer.
Tip #9: Vary Your Walking Routes
It’s important to change up your walking route. Here’s why:
- Going on the same walk every day can lead to boredom, which, in turn, can lead to less motivation to walk.
- Different types of terrain keep your body challenged. Walking hills is a lot more rigorous than a flat path.
- Walking can become a tool for expanding your horizons and seeing new places. Make your walks a means of exploring areas you might not usually visit.
Tip #10: Take the Stairs!
Try these other tips to help increase your steps per day:
Add walking into activities with friends and family. Rather than going to a movie, suggest a walk!
Choose public transportation when possible. If you arrive somewhere by bus or train, the block or two to get to your destination adds up to more exercise.
Tip #11: Monitor Your Walks
Many of us are motivated by results. To keep yourself accountable, try keeping track of your walking routes, your distance and how you’re feeling. Whether you write it down daily or use your smartphone or wearable fitness device to track your steps, it’s easier to stay motivated when you can track your progress. After a few weeks, look back to your first walks. Do you notice any changes? Perhaps you can walk longer, more often or don’t feel as tired after your walks.
Tracking your walks is especially helpful if you sit a lot at your day job and are seeking ways to increase your daily steps. In fact, sitting all day is one of the surprising things that can cause weight gain.
Tip #12: Use Walking as a Tool to De-Stress
Remember: Walking is not just for physical fitness. It also helps improve your mood and is a great way to reduce stress. Before you begin a walk, take a moment to notice how you are feeling. Then, after going on your walk, pause and reflect again. Process your current mood. Are you feeling different after your walk? How do your heart rate and breathing compare?
In the bustle of a busy schedule, it’s easy to forget to process how we are feeling in the moment and what truly affects us in daily life. By increasing our awareness, it may be easier to pinpoint our stress—and reap the health benefits of doing so.
We hope these tips help you enjoy one of the easiest, safest and most convenient ways to support your weight loss journey and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Ready start a weight loss program that is safe, convenient and delicious? Learn how Jenny Craig can help you reach your goals. Book a free appointment to get started today!
Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig