Simple guidelines for developing Walking Habits

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in Walking | 0 comments

So, if walking is such an amazing activity, how should you do it? Seems like a weird question right? I mean walking is walking, how complicated can it get? Although this is true, how you should walk still remains a very important question, simply because many people have lots of misconceptions when it comes to this wonderful activity.walking with dogleads to healthy lifestyle

Here are our simple guidelines to get you started with making “walking a habit”:

  • Try and walk a bit everyday, because HOW OFTEN is a lot more important than HOW you walk. The only way to make a new habit it to keep practicing it. This sounds daunting at first. Doing anything everyday almost seems impossible. But there are some things that you probably do, every single day. Brushing your teeth is a simple example. You don’t need to brush your teeth. It’s not something that you “have” to do. Yet you still do it because you know it’s good for you. And by now, it’s likely that brushing your teeth is just something that you do everyday, without thinking about it much.The reason you brush your teeth everyday without thinking much about it is because you have made it a habit. “Habits” are created in our brains through a process called Neuro Plasticity. Basically, when you do something over and over again for a period of time, your brain changes so that it becomes easier to do that thing again in the future. This is what learning really is, and this same principle can be used to help you get in the habit of walking everyday.
  • Get used to planning, because ritual makes habitual. Giving yourself an allocated time to walk everyday is crucial for your success. Let’s go back to the example of brushing your teeth. In all likelihood, you probably do this at the same time everyday, say after breakfast and before bed. It’s this consistency that creates the habit. Doing the same thing at the same time trains your brain to expect that again in the future.Maybe you like the idea of a daily walk but don’t believe you have enough time. You have the same amount of time as every other person – 24 hours a day. You cannot make time but you can manage it. And if you don’t manage to find time for health, you will eventually be forced to find time for illness. Remember those wise words – failure to plan is planning to fail.Establishing the habit is what involves effort – by definition the habit itself is basically effortless.
  • Start thinking of yourself as “an active person.” Daily walking is about avoiding the pitfalls of the sedentary lifestyle. Walking gets you back in the habit of moving again. How can you expect to exercise 3-4 times a week if you can’t even get yourself to walk on those days? Walking is fantastic because it gives you that shift in momentum. After a few months, or even a few weeks, you will begin to hopefully notice a shift in your attitude towards moving your body. Walking reminds you that moving is not something that you “should” or “need” to do but rather something that you want and like to do.Humans are designed to move. In essence, that’s what we do. If you have lost your love for movement, it’s usually not the case that you don’t like it anymore, but rather you have forgotten how fun it can be. Walking is the perfect way to rekindle that connection with yourself, to remind yourself what it means to be human. So, get out into the world and move, you’ll be glad you did.
  • Try not to think as your walk as “exercise.” When you start worrying about walking to burn calories, your brain immediately starts putting walking into the “working” category. Walking is to be enjoyed, and not used as just a way to raise your heart-rate and get you sweating. You don’t need to “power walk” – this can be very hard on your joints. Imagine yourself as a child. When children are in a hurry or want to get somewhere faster, they don’t power walk – neither should you.Many of our clients are interested in “losing weight”. The reality is that you cannot LOSE weight… you must USE weight. One of the nice perks of walking as a form of activity is that it encourages hormones in your body that facilitate fat burning.We also encourage people to try and walk outdoors as much as possible. Treadmills are very convenient but they are no substitute for nature. We live in a world that is filled with machines and gadgets. Technology is terrific but a walk outside is a superb way to regain some balance in your life. Bad weather is nature’s way of helping us value the lovely days. Without the valleys, there are no peaks. Don’t torture yourself, but try and “break the inertia” for at least a little walking everyday.
  • Walk instead of Watch. The average European spends almost 4 hours a day watching television. If you care about calorie burning, you might be interested to know you burn even fewer calories watching television that you do staring off into space. Of course, many people are not entirely inactive while watching television – they eat. There is a strong correlation between time in front of the tube and time mindless munching away. The most common food culprits are sweets and snack foods. Time to walk away from the temptation…
  • Get used to  vary the intensity or distance. Sometimes it is nice to have a destination, a place that you are walking to, but that’s not necessary. Sometimes it’s nice to walk briskly, and sometimes it’s nice to just stroll and take in the world around you. Sometimes it’s nice to walk with your friends and to connect socially. Other times, you may just want some time alone, and heading out for a walk is the perfect activity for that. Walking can be a wonderful time to listen to music or listen to an audiobook.Of course, there are certain situations where, let’s be honest, you just can’t walk everyday. That’s fine, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything! Planning is still very important here. Try and develop some type of routine. Pick some days – say Monday, Wednesday, Friday – and develop a conscious effort to walk on those days. By doing this, you will gain momentum and hopefully the “feel-good” factor of your walks will encourage you to introduce other days to your routine.
  • Think about your need for a change of direction. Modern conveniences and increasing affluence have put most of us firmly on the path of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. We attempt to remedy the situation by committing ourselves to some sort of exercise program.Unfortunately, the reality is these are rarely sustained. We speed up but then we are forced to rest and we are still on the same course. To stop this downward trajectory, we must change our direction, and that means we must change our habits. All children have the habit of movement – adults have merely been sidetracked. But it’s easy to get back on track – just put one foot in front of the other – every day!

Walking is definitely a step in the right direction!

Read more about walking on DrTheresa.com

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