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In January of this year, I decided I would start walking one mile a day. It wasn’t officially a resolution, it was more of a commitment to myself to move more. I didn’t want to put pressure on myself. I have often made resolutions in January and then abandoned them after a month. Then, shame. I’d beat myself up mentally about it. That cycle profited me nothing.
I knew it was time to leave that mindset behind. Especially since I write for a living. Yep, that means I sit a lot. And apparently, extended sitting is terrible for your health. Thus, my decision to move daily.
In this post, I’ll share my three tips on how to make walking a daily habit. I’ll also share some things I have learned along the journey that you might find interesting.
3 tips for making a daily walking habit
I realize there are more tips I can share, but these are my top three tips that have helped me to walk 7+ miles every single week:
1. Get comfortable shoes
Listen, no one wants to walk with achy feet. My sister-in-love walks and runs. She and my brother swear by HOKA shoes for walking. I have also heard that Brooks makes good walking shoes. She also likes ASICS Women’s Jolt running shoes for when she picks up the pace.
Me? I actually have HOKA shoes on my list to try. But I have a comfortable pair of kicks I scored from my friend. He has a basketball team and occasionally sells sneakers as a fundraiser. I wasn’t expecting them to be so comfortable. I wear them every time I walk, and as a result, they are wearing out. So, HOKA here I come!
The main point is you want to walk around for at least 30 minutes without your feet hurting. So, try out a few pairs and see what you like best. Be sure to check the return policy before you buy to make sure you can return or exchange shoes if they aren’t a good fit. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member like me, check out the Prime Try Before You Buy option (it includes shoes).
2. Start with a small goal
Have you ever heard the saying, “Go hard or go home”? Well, that is not my mantra. Mine is: start small and build. I’ve learned not to despise small efforts. They add up. So, even though my goal in January was to walk one mile a day, I had a sub-goal: only walk 15 minutes at a time.
I also committed to walking that first 15-minute block early in the day. It eliminated excuses later on. I could check that box early and feel good about doing something for myself. Soon, I went from one 15-minute block a day to two.
Allow your body to adjust. If you need to start with five minutes, do that. There is no shame in taking a step to improve your health. We often think efforts need to be grand. I believe there is grandeur in making an effort.
3. Use a tracker
Imagine digging a hole every day and then refilling it. Where is the reward? If you’re anything like me, you want to see progress. That is where a fitness tracker comes in.
Years ago, I used the Runkeeper app. It’s free to use, although you can opt for an upgraded membership for more features. I liked it because it was cool to see, on a map, the route I had walked. You can also see the pace you’re walking and it has options to tell you when you’ve reached a mile. In my opinion, it’s a great starting point. But there are lots of activity apps out there, so take your time and find what you like.
I use a Fitbit. That same brother and sister-in-love I mentioned earlier bought my first one. I wore the band completely out. And it is so old now, I just keep it for nostalgia. I replaced it with the Fitbit Inspire 2. And, I recently bought my husband the Fitbit Inspire 3:
Sometimes we compete to see who can get the most steps in a day on the Fitbit app (he usually wins).
I like my Fitbit because it is not bulky. I really don’t like to wear a lot on my wrists. It syncs with the Fitbit app so I can see my progress as I walk. I like that I can view how many miles I walk or steps I take. Here’s an example of what I see when I am looking at my app:
I also like that it is water resistant because sometimes I like walking in the rain. Besides that, my wrists can get sweaty if it’s hot outside or I am conquering hills. I find it easy to use and keep clean, but the interface isn’t fancy like some of the other Fitbit trackers, namely the Versa 3.
I like that is shows me my resting heart rate over time. And, if I wear it to bed, it’ll show me the quality of my sleep.
The Apple Watch is another choice for a fitness tracker. Most of my family uses Apple products. I’m that diehard Android fan. Every family has at least one. However, they swear by their watches. Of course, it’s pricey but it offers a lot of features beyond counting your steps or logging your miles. I don’t know much about it, so feel free to research it if you want an upgraded health tracker experience.
How walking became part of my life
Here’s a fourth unofficial tip: ditch perfection.
I used to get so down on myself if I did not hit every goal I set. That’s no way to live. And I want to live. So, every day I made an effort. A funny thing happened, that effort turned into love. I prayed and practiced my way into loving walking. And so, it is just a part of my life now. My body craves it daily.
I think, with anything, if you start sowing a seed and nurture it, it will grow. It starts as a tiny plant but can become a great tree. And the longer it grows, the deeper the roots. Walking is now rooted within. And it all started with 15 minutes a day. Now, I average two miles a day. Some days, I walk five miles or more. I let my body tell me what it needs and then, I grab my keys and leave my home.
You can walk outside and enjoy the fresh air. You can walk inside your favorite store (nothing like a HomeGoods run). You can hit the gym and walk around a track or on a treadmill. Just get started and watch where it will take you.
Benefits of walking daily
I’m sure there are way more than I’m about to share, but these are the benefits of walking daily in my life:
- My resting heart rate is lower
- My blood pressure decreased (I was diagnosed with hypertension in 2019)
- I am exposed to vitamin D from the sun
- I think things through better
- I have an outlet when I am angry or frustrated
- I get excited about what I will see on my walks
- I sleep better
- I have lost some weight
- I make better choices about what I eat
- I meet new people on my walks
- I burn more calories daily
I invite you to start walking. It has become a necessary part of my life and it brings me a lot of joy. Get out there and see what it can do for you. Let me know if you try anything I shared in this post. Happy walking!