So you’ve resolved to make walking a routine in 2014. You may have even completed your first week or two to stay on track over the holidays. But if your enthusiasm is starting to wane. How do you stick with it? Calgary-based walking coach Darlene Hull has a five tips to help keep you on track:
1. Start small – and be realistic
“The biggest issue is people biting off more than they can chew,” she says. “They vow to work out five days a week for two hours. That’s not realistic.” So start small. Really small. Hull suggests your first walk of the new year be a quick 5-minute spin around the block.
2. Track it
Slap on a pedometer to see how much you’re walking and add 100 steps a day. “Let’s say your first week is 1,200 a day, on average. Then next week is going to be 1,300,” says Hull. “It’s really, really manageable.” Work up to a distance goal, such as a 5k or 10k walk.
3. Switch it up
Changing up your walking route is crucial to sticking to a regular routine, says Hull. Studies show that adding variety to your workout will help you keep at it longer. Bust boredom by varying the distances and make it easy to stick with it by walking somewhere convenient, but pleasant and safe. “I set it up in a pattern and have about four routes that I do,” Hull says.
4. Foster some fans
Tell your whole social media network you’re heading out for a walk and you’ll be rah-rahed to the end of it with a virtual cheering section. Social support is proven to help motivate people to reach their exercise goals. Make it easier with an app that automatically posts an update to Facebook or Twitter when you’ve started your walk and when you’ve completed it. The iFunWalk ($0.99) even makes it more interesting by creating a scavenger hunt of sorts, assigning you tasks like finding a red stone on the path.
5. Think big
Get motivated by joining an online community devoted to swapping aspirations and information about exotic marathon-style destinations. You’ll meet people hoping to achieve the same goal as you and you can share tips on training methods, Hull says. She recommends trying the 10,000 Steps Northland virtual walking challenge that helps walkers train for a Great Wall of China trip. Break your big goal into manageable chunks — and when you hit one, celebrate!
-Article originally published January 2011.