Although the edHEALTH Walking Challenge has ended, it’s an ideal time of year to keep your steps up. Walking is healthy, convenient, and boosts your energy and mood. Your activity tracker can inspire you to make progress. Whether you walk for enjoyment, to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, strengthen your bones, or lose weight, here are nine steps to keep you fit and motivated:
- Invest in good sneakers – comfortable sneakers that fit properly will help you avoid blisters and calluses. Look for athletic shoes with a good arch, a supportive heel, and cushioned, flexible soles that help absorb shock. Depending on how frequently you walk, replace your sneakers every three to six months.
- Wear appropriate clothing – wear comfortable clothing that’s appropriate for the weather. Don a hat and apply sunscreen to protect yourself during the day. For hot days, bring along water to stay hydrated. At night, be sure you’re visible with bright colors, reflective tape, or flashing lights.
- Schedule it into your day – if walking and exercise are part of your daily schedule, you’re less likely to skip it. In addition to aerobic activity like walking, include strength training and flexibility for variety and additional benefits.
- Be flexible with your routine – if you miss your standing morning routine, make it up at lunch or after work. When your schedule is packed, consider breaking your walk into 15-minute segments that you can squeeze between meetings and other obligations.
- Vary your route – keep your walk interesting by mixing up your where you walk. Include hills in the course to increase your fitness level.
- Practice good form – monitor your heart rate to be sure you are challenging yourself by elevating your heart rate while still being sure you can carry on a conversation. Maintain a good posture by keeping your head up, back straight, and abdomen flat. Swing your arms in opposition to your moving feet to help with balance.
- Bring along a buddy – walking with a friend can make exercise fun and provide social interaction. Check your local gym, your workplace, and fitness stores for walking clubs to join. According to Harvard Medical School, dog owners walk more, and your dog is an excellent walking companion.
- Get audio motivation - get motivated with music, an audiobook, or podcast. We know one Olin College of Engineering employee who was inspired by The Brady Bunch’s “Sunshine Day.” Be sure the volume is low enough to remain alert to your surroundings.
- Get back on track – don’t give up if you end up skipping your workouts. Remind yourself about the many benefits of exercise and how good it makes you feel, and then get back on track.