Is walking regularly on your ‘Should Do” List? Do you know it’s good for you and has both physical and mental health benefits, but you just aren’t finding time?
Don’t worry – you aren’t alone. While we know walking is one of the very best things we can do for our health and well-being, it takes an effort to carve out time in our busy lives. When it seems there is already too much to do, how do you schedule in even more?
There are a few ways to approach this. You can make the decision that your health is a priority and schedule other things around it. And/or you can incorporate walking into other activities you already do so you don’t have to find ‘extra’ time.
Let’s take a look at these -
Make yourself a priority.
Decide that your health, fitness and mental well-being are fundamental to you achieving everything else in your busy life. In the big scheme of things, walking is one of the most efficient, effective and enjoyable forms of exercise and has bucketloads of benefits.
Here are a few ideas for making walking part of your healthy and balanced lifestyle -
- Schedule walking into your morning or afternoon routine. Make walking a high priority part of your daily routine – not something that would be nice to achieve, not something that can be forsaken and pushed aside when you get busy. In fact, there are so many benefits to walking, the busier you are the more you NEED your walk.
- Have an accountability buddy to walk with you and encourage you to stick to your walking schedule. While many of us easily let ourselves down (eg by sleeping in instead of going for a walk), we don’t like to let others down. Having a buddy who relies on you (and you on them) might be all the incentive you need to stick to your walking routine.
- Make walking part of your ‘me’ time – whether you call it a prayer walk, a meditation walk or simply time you get to choose what you play on your smartphone, walking is the perfect opportunity to grab some ‘me’ time. Seek inspiration from podcasts, rev yourself up with pop music or leave the tech at home for a break from it. This is your time – use it wisely.
- Walk into mindfulness – mindfulness is about being in the present, living in the now. Use your walking time to just BE. Focus on your breath as you breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Feel the sun on your skin. Hear the birds twittering. See the beauty of nature. Smell the freshness of cut grass, stop and sniff the flowers. Now is not the time to worry about the past or the future – now is the time to be in the NOW.
Increase your ‘incidental’ walking –
Incidental exercise is the exercise we get that’s not scheduled or planned specifically as exercise. It’s the small bits of physical activity we do almost without noticing. Look for these little gems that help contribute to the amount you walk. Increase these and you might be surprised how many extra steps you make in a day.
Try making these a habit -
- Walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift (with Covid restrictions reducing how many people can be in a lift at the same time, it’s sometimes more efficient to walk!)
- Walk to work if it’s not too far.
- Get off the train or bus a few stops earlier or park further away and walk.
- Become a pacer - walk around the office or your home or yard during phone calls.
- Try going for coffee a few blocks away instead of nearby.
- Get off your butt and walk over to colleagues to talk to them instead of communicating electronically.
- Park further from the shopping centre entrance than usual so you have to walk further.
- Do an extra lap of the mall or shopping centre (before you are loaded up with the shopping).
Add walking to business and social activities –
You’re going to be catching up with friends or meeting colleagues or business connections anyway… why not arrange for it to be a walking outing or meeting? There are many benefits beyond the physical aspect – let’s take a look.
Walking meetings –
Many famous, creative minds use walking meetings to talk, teach, connect and think. From Aristotle to Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg, the benefits of walking meetings were apparent to these leaders. Benefits include -
- Improved creativity
- Increased productivity
- A more collaborative approach and better connection
- Better engagement
- Improved focus
- Increased energy
- Higher brain function
- Better emotional well-being as a result of better physical well-being
- Better for posture as you take a break from sitting for so long
- Meetings tend to be more personal and interactive – walking puts people on more equal footing (pardon the pun)
Social walks –
You will be surprised how easy it is to walk, and how far you can walk when you are with family or friends. Arrange to meet at a leafy park, the beach, a lovely part of town or near a river – anywhere that provides a pleasant environment.
Walking together builds bridges and bonds. There is something companionable about this shared activity that can make walking together very special.
As you can see, there are many easy ways to embed walking into your life. Make yourself a priority and add walking to things that you already do. It can be that simple. And you are worth it.