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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Walking — Good for the Planet and Good for You — Benefits

Walking is good for the planet and good for you. Walking is a green thing to do and has many environmental benefits. It uses renewable energy—YOU. Walking is good for both your physical and mental well-being.

I like walking and wanted to learn more about the benefits and ways to add more walking into my own routine so decided to do additional research and write several posts on the topic.

On an intellectual level, most of us know that walking helps keep us healthy and is a green transportation alternative to cars. But do we translate that into actual behavior and do it? Perhaps a refresher of the benefits would give us a little nudge.

It’s Green

According to a 2011 U.S. EPA report, the average gasoline passenger vehicle gets about 21 miles per gallon and drives around 12,000 miles a year. Driving 1 mile emits 423 grams of CO2 for a grand total of 5.1 metric tons emitted in 1 year by just 1 vehicle. Granted not everyone drives 12,000 miles a year, and some people drive electric or hybrid vehicles that achieve better gas mileage. But you get the picture. That is a lot of CO2 (greenhouse gases)!

Power PlantA person walking 1 mile emits virtually 0 grams of CO2 so imagine how much CO2 you can avoid putting into the atmosphere by walking more.

Most vehicles run on non-renewable fossil fuels or are powered by electricity produced in plants powered by non-renewable fossil fuels. Non-renewable means just that, there is a limited supply.

Walking uses renewable energy—YOU.

It’s Healthy

Many health experts say, if you do no other exercise, walk for at least 30 minutes every dayWalking helps strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and burn calories. Don’t discount the positive impact walking can have on your mental well-being too.

Scale with Tape Measure and FruitWalking burns calories and helps you lose weight and then maintain it. If you do the recommended minimum of walking 30 minutes a day, you can lose 1 pound in less than a month and over 15 pounds in a year. Yes, just by walking. How does it work?

  • A person can burn somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 calories per mile (depending on weight, stride length, pace, terrain).
  • It takes about 20 minutes give or take for a person to walk 1 mile, so in an hour that is 3 miles or 300 calories. Divide by 2 and you get 150 calories for 30 minutes of walking.
  • It takes 3,500 calories to burn 1 pound of fat.
  • So…if you walk 30 minutes a day and burn 150 calories per day, in 23.3 days you will have burned 3,500 calories and potentially lost 1 pound (3,500 ÷ 150 = 23.3). In a year, that is 15.6 pounds (365 days x 150 calories = 54,750 ÷ 3,500 calories per pound = 15.6 pounds).

It’s Free

Walking is free!

Walking may also be good for your wallet. For example, if you walk to the store instead of driving, knowing you have to carry your purchases home may cut down on impulse buys. Or by getting up and walking around during TV commercials, you won’t see things that you don’t need but then must have.

It’s Quality Time

Spend quality time with yourself, friends and family. Slowing down and walking allows you to be present with the people you are with and see and enjoy what is around you.

Let’s Get Walking

Most people aren’t opposed to reducing greenhouse gases, losing weight, things that are free, or quality time with friends and family so let’s get walking.

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