Creating a Walking Plan
To prevent health risks such as stroke and diabetes health it is recommended that we walk briskly for 30 minutes a day, with a total of 150 minutes a week. (Harvard Health)
Start out Small
However, if you have got out of the habit of daily walking and are looking to begin anew, start out small and increase your distances slowly. That way you are making consistent gains without setting yourself up to fail. The aim is to be able to walk briskly with slightly heavier breath than normal but still being able to talk.
To make it easier, start with 15 minutes a day, and increase this in five minute increments week by week, for example:
- Week 1 – 15 minutes a day
- Week 2 – 20 minutes a day
- Week 3 – 25 minutes a day
- Week 4 – 30 minutes a day
This way it starts to become a healthy habit and before you realise it you are comfortable with easily walking for 30 minutes (or more).
Join a Walking Group
Once you’re back up to walking at least 30 minutes a day I recommend joining a walking group. This will make it easier to stay motivated and gives you the opportunity to explore walks in your area while, at the same time, getting to meet new people. A good place to find a walking group is through meetup.com. The good thing about walking groups is that you can start with easy walks and once you’re confident with this level, you can start to move up to more challenging walks.
Hills and Steps
Hills and steps can always be a challenge. There are hills and then there are hills. Even though I have clocked up many kms I can still find hill-climbing really tiring. The thing is to take it at a slow pace (and don’t try to match someone else’s pace) and just keep walking with small steps until you get to the top. It also helps to lean into the hill. Walking poles can also help as they give you more power and allow you to go for longer.
Once you’re up to walking distances without getting too tired, a good challenge is to look out for local sponsored events such as 5 km (3.106 miles) or 10 km (6.213 miles) walks or half marathons. I remember the first time I walked the Around the Bays event in Wellington (6.5 km) and the satisfaction I felt in completing it (plus I remember how tired I was afterwards)! At the time it seemed a long way so it’s interesting how your perspective changes once you’ve got used to walking longer distances.
I wish you all the best with your walking plan!