10 ways to motivate yourself to get walking
This May is National Walking Month. Sponsored by Living Streets each year, National Walking Month was created to inspire people to feel the benefits of walking. Walking can be incredibly beneficial for our health, from helping us recover from injury or surgery, to promoting weight loss, heart health, and better mental wellbeing. It can even protect against early death - a recent study found that lack of exercise is more likely to cause premature death than obesity, and walking just 20 minutes a day can make a difference.
According to the NHS the average UK adult walks between 3,000-4,000 steps each day, but they advise upping that daily total to a minimum of 10,000 steps. If you lead a mostly sedentary life, it can be difficult to find ways to squeeze time in for those extra steps, but with such important benefits, it's important to try. That's why we've compiled the below list of tips to help you get out and get moving.
Set a goal and tell people
If you set a goal but don't bother to tell anyone, then it¿s easy to just forget about it and not bother. However, if you set a goal and then tell your family and friends, they'll be more likely to hold you accountable. So if you decide to up your daily steps to 10,000, let people know. The worst they can do is make you keep your promise.
Get yourself some comfortable walking shoes
Nothing is going to deter you from taking a walk more than a pair of shoes that make your journey painful and uncomfortable. Whether you're planning to walk to work or to school, take a stroll around the neighbourhood, or hit the hiking trails, you need appropriate footwear to make it worth your while.
Be prepared for the weather
You may have the right shoes now, but what happens when it starts to rain? The UK is a rainy place and inclement weather isn't hard to come by. Don't let yourself get in the habit of skipping your daily walk because the weather is a bit daunting. Instead, invest in a pair of wellies, a good quality mac, and a sturdy umbrella.
Never drive places that are walking distance
It's a bit of a conundrum, trying to figure out exactly how far 'walking distance' is, but for the sake of this article we'll say it's anything less than a mile. So with that in mind, stop driving to places that you could actually walk to. If the shop is just down the road, don't bother with the car unless you anticipate a large load to carry back. If the park is close enough to walk to, then stop loading your kids in the car and make them walk there with you instead. As an extra bonus, by the time you all walk home they'll be so tired out they'll probably go straight to bed!
Start parking far away
If you¿re travelling to places that aren't within 'walking distance' then make it a habit to park as far from the entrance as possible when you get there. That way you'll have to rack up a few steps on the way in and out, and bonus - you'll save all that time you'd have otherwise spent searching for a prime spot at the front of the car park!
Co-opt your commute
If you live close enough to your place of work that you can walk it, then do just that! Walk. However, if you live far enough away that walking isn't possible, then try to incorporate walking in to at least part of your journey. If you take the bus, get off a few stops early. If you drive, try parking further from the office.
Make a game of it
If you've set yourself a daily goal of steps, invest in a tracker like the Fitbit Charge or Microsoft Band and start tracking your steps. Whenever you hit your daily goal award yourself a sticker or a point, and when you've say collected 50 points, treat yourself to a reward - maybe a trip to the cinema or a new top.
Join a walking group or find a friend
If you¿re a social person and enjoy doing things with others then a great way to motivate yourself to get moving is to join a walking group, or even just find a walking buddy. Not only will it give you an opportunity to engage socially, but if someone else is depending on you, it will make you less likely to skip out.
Become overly concerned with the environment
Every time you get in the car and drive you¿re releasing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. According to LivingStreets.co.uk, walking to work every day for a year would save 17kg of Carbon Dioxide from being released into the environment. So every day you choose to walk over driving, you'll save a little bit more CO2 from polluting our air. That should make us all breathe a little easier.
Think of the extra money
Aside from the shoes, the mac, and the umbrella, walking will cost you nothing but your time. Driving, on the other hand, is a costly endeavour. The money you'll save on fuel alone will start to add up quickly. However if give up your car completely in favour of walking and public transport, you could save even more as you won't have to pay for insurance or car payments or repairs.