Get Your Walk On: 6 Tips for Walking More Regularly

Walking path at a park in New York

The other day, I really needed to go for a walk ─ not just an errand-running walk but a deep cleansing type of walk. I had spent a great deal of time on the computer, pushing to meet a deadline, and needed a thorough unplug. Sitting elsewhere in our space with the windows open or somewhere out in the back wasn’t going to cut it this time. The sun was out, the sky was clear, and the air was good, so I wove in and out of our neighborhood on foot.

It was just what my mind, body, and spirit needed. I wondered how I had gotten off track ─ even before the pandemic, working remotely, and the increased crime, heatwaves, and wildfires. Before, I used to walk the city from end to end and back. I thought about why else I had stopped and came up with the following reasons and tips to share. If these sound familiar, perhaps you can apply them and get walking more regularly, too!

Notes: This post was last updated on October 20, 2021 and shares general public health information. It does not offer or replace individualized health advice, which is best given by your medical care providers. Scout is not affiliated or endorsed by the sources mentioned, nor do they approve of this blog or its content.

1. “Get” the Benefits of Walking

Many of us know the benefits of walking but don’t “get it” or understand until it’s too late. We may not be in tune with how we’re feeling and may not recognize that we are deprived.

Signs of deprivation could be feeling:

  • defeated ─ as if you invested so much time and energy for little return
  • frustrated ─ like you’re going to explode
  • doubtful, questioning your path
  • maxed out ─ as if you’ve reached your full potential and are out of ideas
  • slow to react or respond, less mentally agile
  • wound up with tight upper back and shoulders
  • out of breath during daily activities

Walking can help us manage feelings of overwork, anger, self-doubt, and knowledge depletion. While walking, we can:

  • get a washout period and wipe the slate clean
  • blow off steam and beat out stress
  • have time to reflect and refocus
  • get the cogs turning and start fresh again

Walking exposes us to sunlight, which reacts with a cholesterol compound in the skin when absorbed. This process forms vitamin D, which supports our nervous, immune, and musculoskeletal systems. Walking is a weight-bearing, aerobic exercise that strengthens the muscles, bones, heart, and lungs. It keeps us fit depending on how often, intensely, and long we do it.

Now that we’re aware of possible signs of deprivation and have connected them with how we’re feeling, let’s try to prevent them by making walking a priority.

2. Make Walking a Priority

We may understand the benefits of walking but still not walk regularly because it isn’t as high priority as other things on our to-do list. Or we may have every intention to walk but not do it because we get caught up in other things. Considering the cost and convenience, walking should be a top priority, though. It’s free and can be done around your neighborhood.

Too many times have I said, “I just need to get through this one thing,” and missed the window of opportunity only to find I would have been more productive had I gone for a walk. Others have said, “Don’t worry ─ the work will be there when you get back,” and it’s true ─ the work is not going anywhere and will always be there. So, pry yourself from the computer and take a break!

It helps to hold yourself accountable by making an “if, then” statement, such as, “I have to go for a walk because if I don’t, then I will be less productive.” Also very helpful is setting visible or audible reminders in heavily occupied areas, such as a poster near a work station, a stickie note on a computer monitor, or an alarm that makes a distinguishable sound or tune.

3. Set Realistic Goals

Another reason we may not walk regularly is overestimating how long we must walk to benefit or underestimating the benefits of a short walk. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans at the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic physical activity, such as brisk walking, for adults.1 However, this doesn’t have to be done all at once but in increments, for example:

  • one 75-minute walk 2 days per week,
  • one 50-minute walk 3 days per week,
  • one 30-minute walk 5 days per week,
  • two 15-minute walks twice per day 5 days per week, OR
  • one 60-minute walk and three 30-minute walks per week

If you’ve been sitting around a lot, The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest beginning with 5 minutes several times per day 5 to 6 days per week and advancing to 10 minutes 3 times per day.1 Adults should do as much physical activity as safely tolerated, and anything is considered better than nothing!1

Choose a time and frequency that best fits your situation. If your schedule is erratic, get any walking you can in. The key to any successful exercise program is to be consistent. If that means walking up the street and back a couple of times per day or around the block during breaks most days of the week, then pat yourself on the back!

4. Get Motivated to Walk

Understanding the mental, spiritual, and physical benefits, prioritizing, and setting realistic goals are all good but may not be enough to get you walking more regularly. Music and tracking tools can give you that extra push.

Music can put you in the mood, add pep to your step, and even take you further than intended. I made playlists using Spotify. Note: Not all explicit lyrics could be excluded.

I have an eclectic taste, like music from different genres and periods, and choose songs I am reminded of or seem to go with a theme. You can listen to these playlists or other playlists or make your own, using a digital music service, too!

Tracking tools, such as pedometers, apps, and logs, are great for monitoring walking progress. You can aim to improve or maintain your time, distance, or number of steps on subsequent walks and feel accomplished and encouraged when you reach your target.

5. Make Walking Fun

In addition to listening to music and tracking steps, you can add fun to walks by taking note of your surroundings. Walk during the daytime in an attractive, pedestrian-friendly area, such as a park, square, or outdoor market. Take notice of seasonal changes, such as the red, orange, and yellow colors of fall leaves and the display of holiday decorations.

In the city, there is an abundance of sights to see. Frequenters can get used to this but find surprises with public art. For example, in San Francisco, there is a heart designed by a different artist at each corner of Union Square and dreamy murals of dragons and Bruce Lee in the alleyways of Chinatown. In North Beach, The Richmond, and other districts, there are playful paintings of honey bears, lips, or other objects on doors and walls.

6. Be Prepared Yet Flexible

Other reasons we may not walk regularly are being unprepared and inflexible. When you’re psyched and ready to go but have to charge your devices or find your keys, this can disrupt your flow and cause you to lose time.

Planning ahead is essential to have an optimal experience. First and foremost, choose a safe time of day and area to walk. Driving or riding out to a site and decreasing the frequency and increasing the duration of walks may be necessary. Organize and store your belongings in a designated place as close to the door as possible. It may help to have a checklist posted where you can see it, so you don’t forget. With the length of your walk in mind, consider:

  • Walking shoes that are in good condition
  • Weather-appropriate attire, i.e., light vs. multiple layers of clothing
  • Face covering, such as a multi-layered mask or neck gaiter
  • Sunglasses, hat, visor, umbrella, or parasol
  • Home and car keys
  • Sunblock or sunscreen applied to face and body
  • Water bottle
  • Phone with music and pedometer app
  • Backpack, fanny pack, or jacket with inner pockets
  • Snack or cash to buy a snack

Things don’t always go as planned, however. When this happens, just roll with it and get your walk on. You can go for a longer walk another day. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a short walk and be consistent!

Share Your Thoughts

So, are you ready to get your walk on, too? Did any of this sound familiar? Have you identified other barriers to walking more regularly and solutions? Comment and share this post below if you think others may benefit.

References
  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition. (2018). https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines/current-guidelines

Published by Scout

Saving Materials & Money, Balancing Life & Leisure, and Enjoying the Simple Things. Health, Food, Money, Home, Travel, and Music.

38 thoughts on “Get Your Walk On: 6 Tips for Walking More Regularly

  1. Totally agree we all should embrace a good “shake off the cobwebs” walk regularly, they’re so good for the soul! I wrote about hiking this week too, must be in the water!

  2. Thank you for sharing, Rachel! It makes sense, huh? No-cost, convenient and needed more than ever with social distancing, working at home, etc. I’ll read your post on hiking 🙂

  3. This is so true. I always feel much better after a walk. I like to walk with my husband… since date nights have been tricky lately. It is great for me both physically and emotionally.

  4. Thank you for sharing, Carrie! Yes – walking is a great activity to do with your partner or friend. This reminds me of having walking buddies. Not only do you get to spend quality time together, but you feel safer and can motivate each other, too. My hubby tends to walk fast, but I’ve taken the lead on the pace lately 🙂

  5. Love this! Walking is GREAT for you and so easy to do! I try to do 30 mins of walking each day I don’t run. It’s so relaxing =)

  6. Very true , it does help to blow up some steam once in while. Need to prioritize walking more often. thanks for the tips !

  7. Thank you for sharing this! This article really “took me for a walk”! I agree with all your points, in particular with 3. set realistic goals. In my opinion people tend to overdo walking the first time, which has a backlash because they don’t enjoy it and as a result they don’t do it anymore. Starting with short walks and increasing gradually could be the way to go, or actually “the way to walk”!

  8. Oliver, I couldn’t agree more! One can be overzealous and miss the benefits of just being consistent. My pleasure and thanks for stopping by 🙂

  9. Yes, walking is an easy way to have good health & maintain it. My problem is when the weather turns cold…I don’t like the cold 😧

  10. Well now I can’t wait to take a walk today! It really gave me new motivation to move around, even if it’s chilly outside!

  11. I agree – it can be a challenge when it gets cold! That’s when we’ve got to bundle up to take a break and get some fresh air, optimize walks while running errands, and look into indoor alternatives, such as walking videos. I admit – I am looking forward to spring. Thanks for responding, Carlyn!

  12. Oh good! Every little bit helps when it’s chilly. If not for 30 minutes at 1 time, then shorter duration more frequently throughout the day – even marching in place to music inside 🙂 Thanks, Lauren!

  13. Thank you so much for this! Every time I start walking, I drop it after a couple of days. I’m gonna use these 6 tips and try to really stick to it this time

  14. Thanks for sharing this inspiring post. I particularly liked the idea of taking a note of surroundings during the walk. Time to get the walking shoes out now! 🙂

  15. My pleasure, Lynn! Dropping walking is a common thing many of us do. I’m glad this serves as an encouraging reminder 🙂

  16. This post makes me wanna go out and take a walk! I agree that walking refreshes you…mind, body, heart, and soul. I haven’t been walking as much as I used to, but after reading this want to get back to walking again and making time for it.

  17. Yes, walking regularly makes you fresh and releases all the stress. Great tips!

  18. Great post! Walking is SO beneficial in so many different ways. Whenever I’m feeling burnt out at my computer I go for a little walk around my property. Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes it helps refresh and reset my mind so I can continue on with my work for the day.

  19. This is exactly what I was looking for. The lockdown greatly affected on our physical and mental health.

  20. Love this! I always struggle with staying motivated with walking. It is such an easy form of exercise but staying regular with it can be such a challenge. Thanks for sharing these tips!

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