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Published on April 02, 2019

two women walking outside

#TryItTuesday: Spring Into Spring With These Walking Tips

A few weeks back my daughter challenged me to a "10,000 Steps a Day Steps Challenge." Of course, I said yes, especially now that the warmer days of spring have arrived.

Here's how it unfolded to start: 

Day 1 – Barely made it, but I did ... 10,020 steps.

Day 2 – Life happened ... 6,457 steps.

Day 3 – Good day ... 11,345 steps.

Day 4 – Had to work a bit harder to get them in, but got it done ... 10,454 steps.

Day 5 – Ouch ... when I got out of bed, my knees started screaming at me.

Ummm, yeah, after talking with my health-care provider, I discovered it wasn’t the brightest idea to go from walking 2,000 to 4,000 steps a day to walking over 10,000 steps.

I tried to cut back the steps, but the knee pain persisted. Sadly, I stopped the challenge and limited any extra steps these last few days. My knees are starting to feel better, and I’m ready to get back to the step challenge, but this time, I’m going to be a bit wiser with my choices.

Here are some of the walking tips to help us all step in the right direction!

Set Realistic Goals

such as walking 10 to 15 minutes, three times a week— and have a plan to reach them will improve your chances of sticking with a walking program.

Goals

  • How far and how often you will walk to start
  • Where you want to be with your walking program in six months
  • Where you want to be in one year

Action Plan

  • Where you will walk
  • What days and times you will walk
  • Who your walking buddy or support person will be
  • Making sure you have everything you may need, including: s
    • Shoes that fit right and have good arch support; a firm, well-cushioned heel; and non-skid, flexible soles
    • Clothes that keep you dry and comfortable
    • A hat or visor for the sun, sunscreen and sunglasses
    • A hat and scarf to cover your head and ears for those cooler days

Preparation, Division and Approaches

Divide your walk into three parts:

  1. Warm up by walking slowly.
  2. Increase your speed to a brisk walk. Brisk walking means walking fast enough to raise your heart rate while still being able to speak and breathe easily.
  3. Cool down by slowing your pace.

When walking, be sure to use proper form:

  • Keep your chin up and your shoulders slightly back and relaxed.
  • Look forward, not at the ground.
  • Keep your back straight, rather than arched forward or backward.
  • Let the heel of your foot touch the ground first, and then roll your weight forward.
  • Walk with your toes pointed forward.
  • Swing your arms naturally.

(Literal) Next Steps and Developing Habits

As walking gets easier, start to go faster and farther. Add hills or some stairs to make your walks more challenging. You can make walking a good habit. Try these tips to help you stick with your walking routine:

  • Walk in places you enjoy, like a park or shopping center. Try different locations and routes to keep it interesting and to stay motivated.
  • Listen to your favorite music as you walk, remembering to keep the volume low so you can hear sounds around you.
  • Bring a friend or family member. Having a regular walking buddy may help keep you going—even when you would rather stay home. You can cheer each other on and serve as role models for friends, family members, and others.
  • Have a "Plan B." When bad weather or other roadblocks get in the way, be ready with options, like walking inside a mall rather than outdoors.
  • Track your progress on paper, online, or with a fitness app for your phone or computer. Record dates, distance, and how you felt when you were done. Devices such as pedometers and fitness trackers may help you count steps, calories, and how far you walk during a certain period of time.

Walking is a great way to be more active, and I’m excited to step back into a regular walking program. How about you?

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