If I hear the phrase “Just go for a walk” one more time … After 2020, it’s actually triggering. But here’s the thing: Walking is one of my favorite mind-clearing forms of exercise. I did so much walking in 2020 that I needed to spice things up to keep the habit going.
If you also want to keep walking in your routine, here are my five tips for walking to help change things up and stay motivated:
1. Pick something new to listen to.
Music is an obvious choice for any workout, but we can only listen to that same throwback hip hop playlist so many times. I have been listening to audiobooks (ours is on Audible, read by us… hint hint) . For the record, when I show off to my friends with how many books I’ve read.. You can just assume that I listened to most of them. It counts! But because I’m my mother’s daughter and I like to worry, I only use one airpod to keep an ear clear to be aware of my surroundings.
2. Bring along props.
On days when I want my walks to pack more of a punch I wear this weighted vest. I bought a 12 pound vest, which when you first put it on doesn’t seem like much, but a few miles in you can feel the difference.
On days when the vest seems daunting, I carry some light hand weights to focus on my arms. They are only two pounds, but after pumping your arms on a decent walk, you’ll feel the extra burn.
3. Add exercises into your route.
Walking the same route day after day, month after month not only gets boring, it also stops being physically challenging. Adding some other types of exercise along the same path helps you mix things up and take your workout to the next level. Create a circuit for yourself by choosing markers — either by location or time — and selecting one move to perform once you reach it. For example, every 10 minutes, stop and do 15 squats. Or, every time you cross the street, sprint or do walking lunges (just make sure no cars are waiting).
I’ll stop when I see benches along the trail and do 20 squats (there are about 5 benches on my route).
4. Run an errand or two.
Instead of a loop around your subdivision, choose a destination you need to visit anyway and get there on foot if you can. Need to pick up a prescription from the corner pharmacy? Walk there. Have to grab a couple of ingredients for dinner at the nearby market? Leave the car at home. You’ll need to keep an eye on the impulse purchases so you don’t end up calling an Uber on the way home…so maybe best to avoid Target. True story, I did a walk to a local farmer’s market on Saturday. I forgot I had not driven there and I bought so much I had to call Penn to come get me. My b.
5. Make it a challenge
Now that it’s easier and safer to meet up with friends and family, why not push each other by turning your walk into a fitness challenge? Set a weekly or monthly goal for distance or time and meet up when you can to walk together. Increase the challenge every month to keep progressing as a group. I share my activity settings with a few friends on the Apple watch. There’s a setting to compete with friends but I discovered I’m far too competitive and it’s not ideal for friendship or my mental health. One time I was doing jumping jacks in my pajamas at 11:55pm to beat a friend who had done an evening run. See? Not ideal for me, but you do you.
Is walking still a part of your daily routine? Share your tips for walking and keeping it exciting in the comments.