11 Steps to Make Walking an Easy Habit for Life

| 10/13/2015 9:13:00 AM


Surgeon General Vivek Murthy's recent Call to Action made it clear that walking is the best way for most people to stay healthy and fit. Here’s how to do it more often and make it more enjoyable. (Murthy will be among the many speakers and participants from all walks of life at the 2nd National Walking Summit to be held in Washington, DC, October 28-30.)

1. Find your natural rhythm. Figure out the best times to walk for your schedule. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning. Or with your kids on the way to school. After lunch. Taking the dog out. After dinner. Before bedtime. With friends or family on the weekends.

2. Seize the opportunity whenever you can. Take the stairs instead of an elevator. Park a few blocks from your destinations. Ride transit (which usually involves a short walk on both ends of the trip). Swap the drive to the gym for a hike around the neighborhood. Run errands on foot. It all adds up.

Pay attention to how you can naturally incorporate walking into your life, rather than making it one more thing added to your busy schedule. Studies show we stick with exercise more when it is a regular part of our day more than when it’s seen as a leisure time activity.

3. Start small but think big. Be realistic in your goals. The CDCs recommended minimum — 30 minutes a day — makes a good beginning. Do it in two or three separate trips if you need to. Then you can work your way up to whatever distance feels best. Many people are now doing walk marathons or half-marathons. (Three out of eight finishers of the Portland marathon now walk, and there are increasing numbers of walk-only marathons.)

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