Was to “walk more” a part of your new years resolution? If so you will be joining the many thousands who also share this resolution. However, if this wasn’t your resolution … it is never to late to make a resolution.
Firstly, congratulations on your choice of exercise. Walking can aid health, fitness and can help towards weight control. Walking is also a fantastic way to fit exercise into your daily schedule without too much hassle, it may be as simple as parking your car further away from work each day and walking for an extra few minutes.
However, as with a good number of new years resolutions, walking can be fairly easy to displace in favour of something “more fun” … often sitting and watching TV for an extra 10 minutes when it is raining will feel better than parking further away from work. We are all subject to this kind of thought pattern, but with the help of the tips below I hope to get you into the swing of things and not looking back.
10 Walking Tips for Beginners
- Plan Your Walking Route
Route planning is often considered by some to be the hard part, where do I walk? how long will it take? etc. Well there are several solutions. You can walk around your local area or park, you could park further away from work or you can use a predetermined route from an online guide, I mentioned a few in my review of Google City Tours last month. One thing that I always find helpful when thinking about going for a walk is planning a route that takes me by a point of interest or through some stunning countryside, it can really help spur you on.
- Predict & Target Your Walking Time
This may sound a little odd but in predicting and targeting your time you can set goals, in theory the faster you walk for long the fitter you are (not always correct but a good rule of thumb). When you first start walking I would suggest predicting around 20 minutes per mile as an average, so if you park a mile away from work take into account it will take you this much longer to get there … we don’t want your boss telling you off now.
- Start with the Correct Walking Shoes and Socks
When it comes to walking, the shoes you wear are the most important part of your walking gear. The correct walking shoe will protect you from the hard pavement bashing which can cause injuries to you feet, knees, legs, hips and back. As a rule of thumb if you are using trainers to walk in that are older than 6 months, get a new pair. Walking Socks can be very different to your “normal” socks, they may be waterproof, breathable, have extra support or any number of other features. The good news is despite a bucket load of features they are fairly cheap.
- Have an Alternative
Some days the going will get tough, whether you are just tired or the weather turns bad or for some reason, you may not want to go for a walk. It is at this point you need to knuckle down and really try, but you don’t have to go for that big 30 minute walk you normally do. My advice is to split the walk down at times like this into shorter more manageable walks, a 10 minute walk to the supermarket, a walk to a friends house or maybe nip to the gym and use a treadmill.
- Bring a Friend
Sounds a little odd, but having a friend to support you in your efforts can really help boost your confidence, especially if that friend is at the same level as you are. Maybe you car share going to work, if there are 3 of you in the car that is 3 of you getting a little more exercise and being a little healthier. If no body is around no worries nip to the gym, everyone in the gym is there to get healthier, everyone supports one another and you will never be without support.
- Music, the Constant Companion
This one sounds a little more loopy. If you are walking around a park or in an area with little traffic consider using your MP3 player to help you. The faster the beat the faster you walk, if you have your music on shuffle you will never know what is coming next and so your walking speed will vary. Having music will also mean you can control your mood when walking, having lots of happy songs will mean you are much happier walking and less likely to find it a drag.
- Don’t Let the Weather Get You
Think about when you will be walking, where you will be walking and what the weather could do. This means in the summer wearing sun screen, a hat and not too many layers. In the winter keep warm and wear waterproofs, if you need to carry an umbrella do.
- Listen to Your Body
If you are finding yourself feeling over fatigued or feeling unwell, stay home. You wouldn’t go to the work with the flu, so don’t go walking. Walking when fatigued or ill will only mean your recovery period is extended. Whilst walking it is normal to feel some discomfort as you push your body to it’s limits, outside of its normal comfort zone. As long as you feel good walk and walk, but if you experience pain, nausea or dizziness slow down and take a seat until you feel better. At this point it is worth mentioning that for the first few times you go walking you should take a mobile, in case you get lost or don’t feel well.
- Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated when walking isn’t the easiest of tasks. I don’t know anyone who wants to carry round big bottles of water as they walk, however there is little alternative. This said there are pieces of gear to help, a running belt with bottle straps means you can carry bottles, phones and other gear as needed, there is also the CamelBak and Platypus systems you may wish to look at.
- Enjoy and Reward
Enjoying yourself is a vital part of any exercise routine, for many people who walk or run the enjoyment can come from being healthier or more so the beautiful surroundings they may encounter. For others, like us city dwellers, it is important to reward yourself still with things that will encourage you to continue. Once a month treat yourself to a new gadget or book, or even better get someone else to buy it as a reward.
Finally, we would like to know about your walking adventures and ideas, especially if you are new to walking or have taken it up as a new years resolution. Let us know by leaving a comment below.