How to Sustain a Walking Routine: Tips on how to stay motivated
Walking is a great low-intensity exercise that encourages people to get outdoors and is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. However, like many other exercise routines, committing to a long-term walking plan can be quite challenging. A recent study from a group of experienced walkers has outlined some great strategies that you should consider to help you stay motivated.
- Use some personal health goals to help motivate you. Walking has many benefits, so think about what you would like to gain from it. Maybe you want it to help with managing health conditions, preventing some health problems, managing your weight or increasing energy levels?
- Plan your route and know where you are going. Once you have found a safe and comfortable routine, you will be more prepared for your walk. It will be easier for you to know what to expect before, during and after your routine.
- Try and develop a route which is pleasant and aesthetically pleasing! Being outdoors and having the interaction with trees/plants, water and animals can be a large motivator for certain people. Designing a picturesque route is a great way to increase your exercise engagement and overall experience which can help with motivation.
- Don’t overdo it. Frustration can sometimes occur if people don’t have realistic expectations and expect too much from their walk. Some strategies to avoid frustration include starting slowly, rewarding yourself, monitoring your progress and goal setting.
Interestingly, the use of social support (such as walking with friends or in groups) was not necessarily an important factor to sustain motivation. In fact, people who relied on a social network took fewer walks per week! This is because the reliance on others to walk with you may limit your opportunities. However, seeking social support can be quite effective for those who are currently inactive or have limited experience.
If your thinking of taking up regular walking for health and fitness then the clear message is to be prepared! Plan your route, set your goals and try to engage with your surroundings. This should keep you on-track to staying motivated for the long-haul.
Duvall, J and De Young, R. (2012). Some Strategies For Sustaining a Walking Routine: Insights from Experienced Walkers. Journal of Physical Activity & Health (9); 10-18.