Walking — Good for the Planet and Good for You — Getting Started

Walking is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health. Want to build more walking into your day? Forming a new habit takes 3-4 weeks so let’s get started.

  1. Set a starting goal
  2. Determine a way to measure progress and hold yourself accountable
  3. Prepare
  4. Do it
  5. Celebrate your accomplishment
  6. Repeat

In this post, we’ll deal with the first 3 items: set a goal, determine a method to measure progress and preparation.

Set a Starting Goal

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

  • Footsteps to GoalSet a starting goal that is a stretch for you but achievable and that you can commit to doing on a regular basis.
  • The point is to do something more than you are doing now, not go from a couch potato to a marathon runner in one step.
  • A goal might be to walk outside 3 times a week for 30 minutes or walk a minimum of 3000 steps a day.

Determine a Method to Measure Progress and Hold Yourself Accountable

There is a saying in business, “what gets measured gets done.” It works in life too.

  • Tell a family member or friend what you are going to do and ask for their support. Later, do it and then tell them you did it.
  • Find a walking partner(s) or group. It’s fun to walk and talk about current events, a mutual hobby, upcoming trip, you name it. A partner helps you stay accountable. Dogs make good walking partners (I’ve yet to see a cat or parakeet). If you enjoy solitary walking, to think, listen to music, or just enjoy your own company, that’s okay too.
  • Start a walking journal. A photo journal would be a fun alternative to writing.
  • Omron Pocket PedometerBuy a pedometer which is a simple device you wear or carry that counts your steps. They come in a variety of price ranges and models. I like my Omron Pedometer because it is small and can be worn on a belt, put in a pocket or even in a purse. The pedometer stores 7 days of data so you can compare your walking for the week.
  • Download an app for your smartphone (many are free). Some apps turn your smartphone into a pedometer (remember to carry your phone with you at all times if you want to count all steps).

Prepare

If you are sedentary, check with your doctor before starting a walking program. Already in good shape, then review the list below and go for it.

  • My kids walk around barefoot all the time but some people (like me) prefer shoes. Your feet are important to your mobility so if you are going to buy shoes make sure they fit well, are comfortable, durable and well made. Don’t skimp on your feet.
  • Walking poles are becoming more and more popular with walkers and hikers and are useful for people with balance challenges or that need assistance for walking.
  • Staying hydrated while walking is important especially for people with low blood pressure. Make sure you have a reusable water bottle.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen.
  • Setting a schedule helps you stay accountable.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable way to carry water, removed outerwear, lunch, purchases, things you find along the way or whatever.
  • Scenic Walking PathDetermine places to walk. Around an indoor or outdoor track. On the sidewalk around town (watch out for uneven payment and driveway cutouts). Walk along a scenic trail, in a park, or around a botanical garden. Mix it up and walk at different locations.
  • In hot climates, a hat is a good idea. I almost always wear a hat outside (when it’s hot out it makes me feel cooler). In cold climates, removable layers work well. When you start out a scarf feels good, and once you warm up you can take it off.

Ready to start walking more? Told a friend, bought a pedometer, scored a great pair of walking shoes on sale? Then get going and enjoy.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

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