How it Starts
Do you believe that walking doesn’t work for you? Do you think that walking doesn’t count as exercise? Think about this.
Myth: Walking Doesn’t Work For Me
Truth: Walking has been proven to be an effective way of managing a healthy weight, achieving performance goals, releasing stress, and improving overall health.
There are a variety of reasons why someone might feel like walking doesn’t work. Novice exercisers often become frustrated if they don’t immediately achieve results; many fitness programs promote false-hope promises like losing 10 pounds in 30 days simply from walking. And sometimes people enter into a walking routine with great intentions but start too hard, too quickly, and burn out and or get injured.
In my practice of health coaching and healthy living, I like to meet people where they are at. Often where they are at is searching for an activity that they enjoy. Walking is a go to for many people who want to just feel healthy. I encourage walking but recommend the following tips.
1. Do not expect to lose 10 pounds in 30 days by increasing your walking/exercise. On the other hand most people who are even moderately overweight can expect to lose 10 pounds in 30 days if they change what they eat. If feeling healthy is your main focus, get out there and move, but if weight loss is your main focus, change what you eat, and exercise yes, but do not think you will exercise your body to a lean body weight without also changing your other habits.
2. Increase your walking time and or distance incrementally. A consequence of not being smart about exercising progressively is that the body tends to break down when it is ill prepared. Though you can ” walk all day and it feels easy” it may not actually be easy on your body. So many people are injured prematurely because “it feels easy and my body should be able to do this” mentality. Don’t let this be you. Incorporate long and short walk days mixed in with thoughtful mileage or time goals for each week as you progress.
3. Stretch all the key muscle groups after long walks. Walking on flat surfaces increases endurance in the muscles especially in the back of the body: calves, hamstrings, and lower back, and hip flexor muscles. You should stretch these muscle groups once a day and right after you walk preferably. If you are climbing hills, then the quadriceps/ front of the upper thighs, as well as the gluteal muscles are also engaged. They should be stretched as well.
4. You should size yourself up with a good running/walking shoe. Research is changing and the old days of sizing up your feet for shoes based on whether you are a pronator striker ( feet and ankles tend to rotate inward on impact), supinator striker ( feet tend to bend outward on impact), or neutral striker ( feet tend to strike evenly) are gone. Best advice: choose a comfortable shoe that feels great. Walk around in the store with the shoes on and make sure it fits and feels great. Don´t buy something you feel you need to ´break in´.
5. Go into your walking routine with a lifestyle change mindset. Often in the beginning of forming new habits it takes a while to get into the flow of simplicity and healthy living, but as you continue on with your new challenge things start changing inside of you. We can’t force this change inside of us, we just have to, as one client says, trust that you’re going to feel better and begin to look forward to getting out and walking and or exercising. I love this thinking. We can’t force things. We just have to trust that all is going to be fine and that soon walking/walk running/ running or whatever it is you are working on is going to soon feel fine.