Whether you have been walking for years or are just getting started with it, making your walking time more enjoyable can help you stay more motivated to stick with it over the long term, which is the key to lasting results!
Try these five simple tips to help you take your walk from good to great:
#1: Step in the right shoes.
This one may sound super obvious, but so many of us are walking around in shoes that are either the wrong size or aren't designed to support our unique needs. If your feet are in pain after you finish a walk, chances are you are in need of a sneaker makeover! The right footwear could be what's missing from your routine and could help turn your walking time into a more pleasurable experience that you'll actually look forward to.
If you regularly experience pain or tenderness in your feet, you may have issues with plantar fasciitis, overpronation (your feet rolling inward as you step), flat feet or even high arches that need to be addressed by either a specific type of shoe and/or orthopedics. Depending on what kind of issues you are experiencing, you may need the expertise of a podiatrist or orthopedist to best advise you on what type of shoe or orthopedics you should be wearing. Please don't wait until the pain is unbearable to make an appointment - do it today!
It's also important to find the right fit. Your sneaker size is typically (though not always) a half to one full size larger than your formal shoe size. If you aren't sure what your specific sneaker size is, take the time to get fitted properly in an athletic store. And don't forget that even the perfect sneakers wear out over time and mileage, so be sure to replace them as needed (like when you start to notice the support or tread wearing out in your shoes) to keep a spring in your step over the long term.
#2: Take care of your feet.
We usually don't give much thought to the muscles in our feet or surrounding our ankles, but if you are a regular walker, it's so important to take good care of them! Dedicating time to stretch and strengthen the key walking muscles found in your feet and ankles and surrounding your knees and hips could help you prevent pain and reduce your risk of injury over the long haul. Keep your walking muscles strong and flexible by including a few of these exercises for your feet in your weekly routine and/or follow along with our "Strong Feet and Ankles" and "Strong Knees and Hips" workouts found in our new walking DVD, "Walk On: 5 Fat Burning Miles."
#3: See green.
Did you know that walking outside or anywhere you can see the color green (even on a screen!) might help you enjoy the time you stride even more? Researchers at the University of Essex in England found that simply seeing the color green during a workout helped study participants feel less fatigued and maintain a calmer disposition than when they were exposed to other colors, such as red or black. And while additional studies show that the combo of green and being outdoors also boosts positive feelings during exercise, this particular study showed that even just viewing the color green indoors (such as on a TV screen) was enough to create positive improvements.
#4: Walk all kinds of ways.
You don't always have to walk in a straight line! Keep things interesting and avoid overuse injuries by switching up your walking techniques -- try adding in moves like side steps, high knee marches, even walking backwards (only in safe areas and very carefully, of course) to mix up your miles while you walk. You'll work more muscles that way and keep your body and mind actively engaged. (Walking DVDs can help provide you with some ideas to try on your own and to learn how to perform these moves correctly.)
#5: Make it a learning experience.
If you've always wanted to learn another language, your walking time is a great time to get started! Studies show that moderate aerobic activity (like walking) is a great way to fire up the brain, so you may even find it easier to learn something new if you do it while you exercise! Try downloading a language program or free podcasts on topics that interest you (it doesn't just have to be language learning) and listen while you walk. Of course, it's important to stay mindful of your surroundings if walking outdoors, so be sure to wear your headphones in a safe walking zone only.
Are you joining us for the #5MileChallenge? We sure hope so! Click here to get all the details on how to participate and where to check in with your fellow challengers from across the globe.
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JESSICASMITHTV: Fitness Made FUN
About the Author
As someone who struggled to lose weight for years, Jessica found that the key to her own 40-pound weight loss was making small, healthy lifestyle changes that led to big, lasting results. Now, as a certified wellcoach, fitness instructor and personal trainer, she has spent the last 15 years helping students and clients reach their goals in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, and now reaches millions online through her YouTube Channel and home exercise DVD series. Please visit jessicasmithtv.com/shop to learn more about her fun, results driven programs for all levels of exercisers.