Walking is definitely one of the few physical activities that do not require extreme physical exertion or prior training.
It is also an easy exercise that anyone with legs and feet, including prosthetics, can perform. And, as an exercise, it provides great benefits for the body.
With that said, keep reading to learn how to develop a good walking habit that will benefit your overall health.
What is a habit
A habit is something that we do automatically without conscious effort. When a thought, action, or reaction to a stimulus or cue is repeated on a regular basis, it becomes a habit.
The brain conserves energy by forming habits. This is done by assigning the tasks performed by rote to the basal ganglia. A region of the brain that is responsible for emotional development, memory, and pattern recognition.
This allows the brain to concentrate on more important tasks that require active participation.
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How to develop a good walking habit
Going by the definition of a habit, you can then develop a good walking habit through repetition of the activity.
Find a reason
If there is a compelling reason for you to want to do a project or an activity, you will do it. Additionally, you are more likely to do something when it makes sense.
Therefore, before you start getting into the habit of walking, you need to have a good reason for doing so. What’s in it for you? What do you gain by getting into the habit of walking?
Find your ‘why?’ and keep it in mind. It will help you to stick with the habit.
Identify with the habit
Another simple way for you to develop a good walking habit is to identify yourself with the activity. Think of yourself as a walker.
When you identify with the habit, you will see walking as something you must do. Rather than something you want to do.
Create a walking schedule
When you want to get something done, you schedule time for it. And if you are serious to make walking a habit, then you should calendar your walking activity.
Create a schedule that you can be sure to stick to. Like in the morning, before you get to work, or in the afternoon when you get home from the office.
To make it a little easier, you may want to anchor it on an existing habit.
For example, say you enjoy a fresh cup of coffee every morning. Instead of pouring your coffee in a cup, why not put it into a thermos flask, and carry it with you for a walk?
The mind is naturally inclined to resist something when difficulty is involved. This is because of the human fight or flight response.
So, when beginning a new habit, it is best to start small. Begin with the smallest amount of time you have available to devote to a new activity.
To get into the habit of walking, you may want to start with a 5- or 10-minute walk. Begin with a time limit that you can easily manage and work your way up from there.
Keep a regular schedule
In order to make the habit stick, you need to maintain a regular schedule for your walking habit. It will help to follow and stick to the schedule you set from day one.
For example, if you scheduled your walking time in the morning, do the activity at the same time each day, until it becomes a routine.
However, if you find yourself struggling to keep the same schedule of time for your walk, don’t fret. Just make sure you find a schedule in your day for your walking activity.
Track your progress
Track your progress to serve as an immediate reward for your efforts.
To keep track of your habit development, keep a walking habit journal.
A habit journal allows you to track the consistency of your walks as well as the increase in the amount of time you walk. You can also keep track of how you feel and how your body changes as you continue your walking routine.
A pedometer is another tool you can use to track your walking habits. It’s a great way to keep track of how far you’ve walked and how many steps you’ve taken throughout the day.
Walk with a friend
Walking will not feel like a chore and you will certainly go the distance when you walk with a friend.
Having a friend join you in developing a walking habit will undoubtedly be beneficial. Because they will act as an accountability partner.
To encourage and remind you of how far you’ve come with your walking habit and to nudge you when you want to slack off.
Benefits of a walking habit
Developing a walking habit will undoubtedly provide you with numerous benefits. The following are some of the advantages of walking.
It is a form of exercise
Some snobs may not consider walking as an exercise. But, walking improves your overall health and fitness. It also protects you from sedentary-related diseases, so it still counts as exercise.
Walking is also a good option for those who are just starting out on their fitness journey. Those who have knee, ankle, or back problems. And those who dislike exercise but want to improve their health.
Overall, walking is a great physical activity that can help you stay fit and healthy.
Walking as a form of exercise will also burn calories. However, the number of calories burned will be determined by the length, intensity, and pace of your walking activity.
That being said, here are some different types of walking you can engage in and the expected calorie burn.
This type of walking will not increase your heart rate noticeably. You would also be able to breathe normally and not sweat that much.
Leisure walking, as its name suggests, is not hurried and allows you to take in your surroundings. This type of walking can also be transformed into mindful walking.
If the purpose of your walking habit is to lose weight, this type of walking will not burn that many calories. But it’s a start. Increase your walking pace and duration, and you will see visible results in due time.
This type of walking includes steady walk, brisk walking, and power walking.
The difference in each of these fast-paced walking is the rhythm or the speed by which you walk.
The pace of a steady walk would entail a normal walk, like going out for lunch or meeting a friend. It is not hurried but not leisurely at all.
Brisk walking on the other hand is that kind of pace you will use when running late to an appointment. It is a little hurried but you would still be able to converse.
The power walk is similar to a brisk walk but at a much faster pace. The form you will adapt with a power walk is that of jogging. The arms swing at a 90-degree angle in coordination with a proper heel-to-toe foot landing.
The fast-paced type of walking exercise would burn more calories and would certainly help you lose some weight.
Make sure to have a good stretch if you decide to go on a fast-paced walk.
This type of walking includes race walking and the walking marathon. This type of walking will challenge your speed and endurance. And will definitely reduce excess weight.
A short, leisurely, or fast-paced walk can help clear the mind and allow for more creative thinking.
So, the next time you find yourself stuck on a problem, take a break and go for a short walk.
The flow of ideas that comes to you while walking may assist you in solving your problem. If not, the walk will reenergize you and make you more sensitive to finding a solution.
Improves mental health
A walking habit also improves your mood because of the endorphins that the body releases during the activity. Endorphins are natural feel-good chemicals that help us cope with pain or stress.
Reduces sugar cravings
Findings from the research by the University of Exeter show that walking reduces sugar cravings during the walking activity and about 10 minutes after the walk.
According to the study, regular walks can help people cut their daily sugar intake in half.
What do you need when walking?
Taking up a walking habit does not require much. You only need to invest your time and commitment. In terms of equipment, you will only need the basics, such as:
- A good pair of walking shoes,
- Drinking bottle to keep you hydrated during your walks,
- Comfortable and weather-appropriate clothes,
- Comfortable sports bra, for the ladies, and
- Sunscreen, for protection from the sun.
To summarize, walking is a great habit to develop because it is a physical activity that anyone with legs and feet can do.
To develop a good walking habit, consider the following:
- Find a reason for developing a walking habit,
- Identify yourself with your habit. You are a walker.
- Create a walking schedule,
- Start small,
- Keep a regular schedule,
- Track your progress, and
- Walk with a friend.
When you develop a walking habit, you can expect to reap a variety of advantages, including the following:
- Walking is a form of exercise,
- Burns calories,
- Improves creativity,
- Improves mental health, and
- Reduces sugar cravings.
Another advantage of a walking habit is that it does not require much in terms of equipment. All you need are the basics, such as a good pair of walking shoes, comfortable clothes, a water bottle, and sunscreen.
Please share your thoughts or ideas about How To Develop A Good Walking Habit in the comments below. And if you liked this article, you might be interested as well in these articles:
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