If you’re reading this article, then I probably don’t have to explain why you should take a daily walk. Going by the stats, exercise is perhaps the most powerful medicine on earth. Not being an exercise buff myself, and with too many aches and pains to do strenuous workouts, I’ve settled on this habit as my daily sacrifice to the exercise gods.
If you need more scientific proof that you need to get off your duff and do this, there’s plenty! In one study, researchers concluded that walking for 20 to 25 minutes per day (140 to 175 minutes per week) can add between three to seven years to your life span.1
A 20172 study found that as little as two hours of walking a week may reduce mortality risk by as much as 20 percent in older adults.
But even knowing all these benefits, and more, I still have days when it’s hard to motivate myself. If that sounds like you, read the following five tips to make it easier…
Recruit your Posse
As with many things in life, sharing your walk with friends makes it all the more fun. Walking with friends and loved ones offers healthy exercise as well as time to build relationships.
And there’s something about walking that seems to spawn great conversations. You might not even notice how far you’ve walked!
What’s more, you’ll be more likely to stick to your commitment if you’ve made a walking date. Plus, research shows that the healthy actions of others rub off on us. A study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that participants gravitate towards the exercise habits of those around them3.
Walk for Entertainment
Walking the same old route daily can become boring. Try walking for entertainment at least one day a week. There are all kinds of options including the zoo, museums, parks and botanical gardens.
Or make walking part of the day’s plan. For instance, walk to the cute little new coffee shop for breakfast or try out your town’s new lakeside pedestrian path.
Walk for a Good Cause
To spice up your routine try walking for a charitable cause. You can take pride in the fact that you’re helping others. It may also motivate you to go longer and faster!
There’s been plenty of research to prove the benefits of varying your walking pace. Switch things up among slow, fast or regular instead of maintaining a constant speed.
For instance, walk slowly for three minutes, moderately for two, fast for one minute, then repeat. Or you can change your speed every time you hit a certain landmark. And if you like music, consider picking up the pace every other song, or with the chorus of every single song.
Music and Beyond
Some folks swear by a playlist of great music for walking, while others opt for something more brain-stimulating. I know someone who listens to audiobooks while walking. From self-help books to the latest thriller, she says they seem to make the walk fly by.
Many people are diehard podcast lovers, listening to a range of genres including comedy, science, crime, history and storytelling. These podcasts are available via different smart phone apps.
Practically a Magic Cure-All
So there you have it: Five ways to turn a chore into a joy. No more excuses!
When browsing medical journals, it’s fascinating to note how often walking comes up as a health “cure-all.” Healthcare professionals regularly “prescribe” walking to patients struggling with pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases.
Likewise, walking is often recommended for lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia, hormonal imbalances, arthritis, thyroid disorders, fatigue, varicose veins and constipation.
The trick is to turn it into something you want to do, not something you need to do. So if you suffer from inertia, motivate yourself by making it fun!