Getting Those Steps: Building a Lasting Walking Routine
Compared to HIIT workouts or training for a marathon, walking seems like a fairly straightforward activity that should require little planning or motivation. However, any healthy routine, no matter how simple, calls for some forethought if you hope to stick to it. If you’re trying to start walking more, here are some tips for building a habit that will last.
Walk first thing in the morning
If you’re a person who relies on caffeine to wake you up in the morning, you’ll find that getting outdoors can help you shake your grogginess without the mid-morning energy crash. Get your walking clothes, socks, and shoes ready each night so that you can get outside for some fresh air and sunlight right away. Even if you do feel that coffee is a must in the morning, make yourself earn it by setting a number of steps you must hit before you’re allowed your first cup of Joe.
Combine walking with something you enjoy habitually
So you’ve got a morning routine that gets you on your feet right after you wake. Excellent! Now you just need to keep doing it almost every day for the rest of your life. Of course, if that’s how you look at your walking habit, you’re not likely to make it past your first week of your new habit. Therefore, you absolutely must frame your walking routine as a “walking and…” situation.
The key is to pair your walking routine with something you’re looking forward to, such as the next episode of your favorite podcast. Need some inspiration? Here are some quick reads that might help:
- Listen While You Walk: The best apps to keep you moving
- The Walking Bored: How to make solo walks less dull
Monitor your progress
To continue any habit over the long term, it’s important that you actually know how you’re doing. Perhaps you thought you only skipped one morning walk last week, but in fact you gave in to the temptation of a quick caffeine fix on three occasions. Keep yourself honest by using your smart watch or mobile device as a pedometer to track your steps so you can have a realistic idea of how much you’re actually walking.
Once you understand your baseline, try to increase your total steps by no more than 5-10% per week. If you’re only walking 2,000 steps a day right now, ambitiously deciding to hit 10,000 steps a day is a recipe for failure (not to mention wholly unnecessary)!