Last month, Donna Connolly from Retirement Reflections wrote a guest post for me Happiness Revisited. Donna’s post was so well received that I asked her to write for my Health & Wellness Month and write about her passion for walking.
Walking and Me:
I love walking! I’m known as a walker. I walk everywhere. Okay, not everywhere…but you get the idea!
On my site, I wrote a post about the benefits of walking (potentially preventing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, dementia, mental stress and depression). I have also documented my husband and my eight-day, two-hundred kilometer walk on the Camino Trail last year. This year, we will pick up where we left off (Najera) and continue walking the remaining six-hundred and fifty kilometers (approximately thirty days) to Santiago and then to Finisterre (Spain).
So, when Sue asked me to share a few health/fitness suggestions, I knew that I wanted to focus on walking.
Most anyone can walk. You just need to make up your mind to do so! If you want to incorporate ‘walking for fitness’ into your daily/weekly routine, here are some ideas.
Ten Tips for Building Walking into your Lifestyle:
- Commit the time and reprogram your mindset – It’s easy to think we’re too busy, or that we will begin ‘tomorrow’. Instead, take five minutes today…and ten minutes tomorrow. The important thing is to start!
- Swap out part of your routine – Going to your local coffee shop? Why not walk there? If it’s truly too far to walk, park five minutes away and walk the remaining distance. Next time, park ten minutes away. No excuses!
- Have the Right Stuff – Feet swell as you walk, so your shoes should not be too snug. Cushioning under the heel and forefoot is important, as is flexibility. Good hiking socks can help evaporate sweat and prevent blisters. A water bottle and sun protection are essential.
- Start Small – In exercise, it is easy to make the mistake of going too hard in the early days. This can cause injury, or prevent us from continuing. It’s better to start small and begin slowly. If you are new to walking for exercise, check with your doctor about what amount is right for you.
- Multi-Task – As mentioned above, if you walk to errands and events when you can (and you can more often than you think) you automatically build exercise into your day. Behind in your book club? Download an audiobook and listen while you walk…but ensure that you are paying attention in traffic!
- Create a Support System – Conversation with a friend can make the time spent walking pass by much more quickly. Conversation also helps remind you when you have pushed too hard and are becoming breathless. Make a walking plan with a friend, even fifteen minutes at the start or end of your day can make a difference.
- Build a Plan – Experts often recommend that a ‘walking for fitness’ program includes a minimum of five thirty-minute sessions or one-hundred and fifty minutes of walking per week. My advice is to start with what works for you. You can then build from there until you reach your ideal walking time.
- Track Your Progress – Use a simple system (small notebook or app) to record your progress. Tracking helps you to more clearly see the gains you’ve made…and where your gaps are. The less complicated your recording system is, the easier it will be to maintain.
- Use it or lose it – Unfortunately, as we age, our muscles begin to shrink and lose mass. Most rehabilitation experts agree that the more we keep active and moving, the better our bodies can resist aging too early. Remember, taking the time to warm up and cool down is important to prevent injury.
- Invest in yourself – Most of us believe that we never have enough time (even in retirement)! It is common to sacrifice our own needs to ‘catch up.’ But do you really want to cut corners with your health? Seeing it this way can help you rethink your commitments…and take steps that will provide long-term mind and body benefits!
Wishing you a great walk and good health!
Meet Donna Connolly