We weren’t designed to be sedentary beings but today’s lifestyle means that so many of us spend the greatest percentage of our time on seats, be that in front of the computer, in a car or other form of transport, or slumped on the sofa at the end of a busy day.
We know, even if we don’t want to admit it, that for the best of our health and longevity, moving more would be good. However, so many things like swimming, running and cycling can seem just too unobtainable and challenging when we are starting out, so we do nothing.
Walking is often called the perfect exercise, the reason being that it’s an exercise that almost anyone can do. You can do it from your front door; you need very little gear; you can do it alone or with others; it’s open to all ages, genders and races; no training is required; it’s a low-impact, aerobic exercise; you can do it where you want, when you want and for as long as you want; it’s non competitive and it brings so many mental and physical benefits.
All these things mean that really there is no excuse, so get started and integrate it into your everyday life immediately.
But how you get started in a world where walking is something that most of us do anyhow? What if you want to use it to get fit or lose weight?
How you get started is in fact one step at a time.
Don’t overthink it, just do it and take that first short walk. From this point you can then build your walking distance, pace and level.
You see, you don’t have to walk far, this activity is so simple and my aim for you is for it to be joyful. At the beginning perhaps just aim for 10 or 15 minutes. That can mean a walk ‘round the block’ or a walk to the corner shop or to the next bus stop as opposed to the closest one.
Once you start though, do it regularly and in this way you will see the progress.
Starting to walk close to home or work can open up a whole journey of discovery as you find new paths, some so close that you’ll wonder how you never noticed them before. Be curious but also be aware and alert and stay safe while you explore.
I have coined a whole series of different walks which will help you see just how this can become an extension of what you do already.
There are the ‘transportation walks’ where you use walking to get from A to B, perhaps even make it part of your journey to work; ‘errand walks’ where you fit your walking in as you go shopping which might be going to the post office, then to the pharmacy, picking up dry cleaning, going to the greengrocers etc.
How about a ‘social walk’ where instead of sitting in a coffee shop or friend’s home you go for a walk together and then end up with a coffee or stop for one half way round your route? You can extend this in time to walking as a family or a couple with friends. I love my ‘set up your day walk’ which I take first thing in the morning and which literally gets the blood flowing and during which I plan my day ahead. I use ‘headspace walks’ regularly to clear my head and change my state. I also use a ‘transition walk’ to mark the move from work time to evening or family time. You can make this part of your journey home or take one once you get home. It allows you to review the day and let go of anything bothering you.
What you need – The most important thing you need is a pair of flat and comfortable shoes, trainers are ideal. An umbrella and/or waterproof coat or jacket is also useful and you may want to carry a bottle of water. That’s all you have to consider.
Accountability – If you find that you are not great at doing these things alone then can you find a friend or family member to walk with? Having someone to be accountable to keeps us on track and keeps us showing up as it’s always harder to give up when someone else is waiting for you.
During lockdown periods when walking with others was not allowed accountability buddies, like above, could still work through texting or using messenger. You state your intention and then check in during or after your walk. You could even use Face Time or other similar facilities to be in touch on route so no excuses. This even makes an accountability buddy in another town or country a possibility.
Start small and build and celebrate every little achievement to spur you on.
To help you get into the flow and to see the benefits available to you, try our Seven Days of Mindful Walking and experience how using your senses can enhance each walk.