Last Updated on June 21, 2023 by Lori
We all know that daily walking is good for us. Learn how to turn “I should walk today” into “I walk every day” – in other words, how to begin a walking routine.
How much do you walk each day?
We all get some steps in, but is it enough?
Chances are, it’s not.
But one of the best things we can do for our health, especially once we are past fifty, is to walk. Often. Let’s consider how we can build a consistent walking habit, to reap all the health benefits walking provides.
Human beings were designed to walk for miles and miles to hunt and gather food. Yet, in modern society, we spend most of our time sitting down. That is not good for our bodies leading to a host of health problems. This is probably one of the most important reasons to make an effort to move around and go for a walk each day.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Most of us sit while we work, we eat sitting down, and in the evenings we often want nothing more than to sit some more, on the couch watching tv. We are used to sitting. We like sitting. Sitting is familiar to us.
In other words, getting and staying in the habit of going for a walk each day can be a bit of a challenge.
But that’s exactly what we need to do.
We need to get in the habit of going for that walk just like we’re in the habit of brushing our teeth twice a day or taking out the trash on Tuesdays.
Once it’s a well-ingrained habit, it won’t be as much of a challenge to make sure we go for a walk each day.
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How to begin a walking routine
Build a Habit by Understanding Your “Why”
As with all habits, in order to create it, you must understand why you want to.
Are you looking to heal back pain?
Lower your blood pressure?
Commune with nature more often?
There are plenty of reasons to start walking as a routine, but it’s important that you know the ones that apply specifically to you. If the outcome has meaning, you are far more likely to stick with the program than if it’s undefined, or not personal.
Create a Plan to Achieve Your Goals
Next, you must create a plan for building the habit.
How frequently will you walk?
Are you counting steps or miles or city blocks?
How quickly will you increase your distance?
Are you concerned just with distance, or with speed as well?
What is the goal? Is there a walking marathon or some other event in your future that you are training for? What physical changes to your body do you want to see? Or is the journey – i.e. walking daily – the goal?
Answering all of these questions surrounding the habit will help you map out the perfect approach for you.
As you plan, consider how you will monitor your actions. You will need a tracking system to make sure you are staying on the path you have set for yourself.
As you plan, remember not to go overboard and overstress yourself too soon. That’s the fastest way to quit! You want a gradual increase in activity that is manageable. Small consistent steps create a lasting habit.
Habits are built by consistency.
A 5-minute walk at the same time every day will become a habit much faster than a 30-minute walk each Saturday.
Aim for daily consistency.
Start: The Biggest Challenge to Building a Habit
Now it’s time to start!
This can actually be the biggest stumbling block of all.
It seems so simple, but convincing yourself to get out there the first few times will be the hardest. For tips on this most important stage, read the post How to Start a Walking Program.
Keep It Simple and Consistent
Find a walking route you enjoy. It helps to make it as easy as possible.
Your favorite walk may offer beautiful vistas, but if it’s a 30-minute drive there and back, you’ll be less likely to do it every single day. Instead, save that walk for the weekends and come up with something convenient and pleasant for your everyday walking routine.
If you can, find a route in your own neighborhood so you can leave right from your front door.
Just lace up your shoes and start walking.
Taking the same route every day helps form that habit.
It’s also encouraging to notice that you can walk the same loop faster or with less effort over time. It proves that you’re making a difference and are getting stronger and increasingly fitter.
Build a Habit by Adding Something Pleasurable to It
Listening to your favorite music, podcasts or audiobooks is a helpful motivator. It will make the time go by faster and give you something to look forward to during your walks.
You can even use your favorite media as a way to bribe yourself to go for your daily walk. Let’s say you have a couple of podcasts you enjoy. Save them for your walks and only let yourself listen to them while you’re walking.
It’s a great incentive to get out there even on days when you’re not feeling like walking.
Build a Habit Through Accountability
Last but not least consider walking with other people.
Find a walking group in your area, or talk a friend or neighbor into becoming your walking buddy.
Not only is it more fun to walk when you have someone to talk to, it also has some built-in accountability. It’s much harder to skip a walking workout when you know that other people are waiting for you and relying on you to join them.
- The Impressive Benefits of Walking Every Day: A Guide for Women Over 50
- How to Start a Walking Program for Better Health After Age 50
- Easy Ways to Exercise at Home (Even When You’re Really Busy)
- Healthy Living After Fifty: A Guide to a Healthier You
Final Thoughts on How to Begin a Healthy Walking Routine
Follow these tips faithfully, and you’ll see it’s not hard at all to begin a walking routine. For most people, it’s probably the easiest way to boost your health, your fitness, and your life.