Week two of our 21-day walking challenge is well under way. The first obstacle is showing up, so if you are getting out daily for some dedicated walking time, then you are already winning. This week we look at how to combat the biggest barriers to exercise, ways to challenge yourself, and some strength exercises to complement your daily walking plan.
Barriers to exercise
Consistency is key when it comes to exercise. It is important that you make exercise and your daily walk fit into your schedule so that you can begin to build this daily habit with ease.
One of the most common barriers to exercise that people report is time; being too busy to get out for a walk. Find a time that best suits you, before going to work, walk to work, lunch breaks, post work or with friends in the evening. Plan your schedule for the week in advance so that you carve out time to walk rather than leaving it to chance daily. There will always be more important things to do unless you prioritise your exercise time.
Walking is a simple non-impact form of exercise that is safe for everyone. Age and fitness are not a reasonable barrier to walking. It is about pitching the speed, route and walk time to your level. Start small with shorter achievable walks, but do them more often, maybe multiple walks per day and build from there.
Another common barrier patients often tell me is they are usually too tired, and can’t motivate themselves to exercise.
Walking provides the best of both worlds, both physical and mental benefits. Walking regularly has been shown to enhance mood and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Walking helps to boost blood flow to your brain and body.
This increase in circulation is proposed to affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is the body’s response to stress.
This also has a positive effect on other parts of the brain including the limbic system, which controls motivation and the hippocampus, which plays a part in memory and mood.
Exercise has also been shown to have a positive impact on energy and stamina. So, when you don’t feel like getting out for your walk, rest assured that once you get moving, your body and brain will help motivate and energise you.
Tools to stay motivated
Tracking your walking is a great way to monitor your progress and can act as a great motivational tool as you see your step count or distance grow. Smart phones and watches have some great, easy-to-use free fitness health apps that help you track your daily activity.
I use the health app on my iPhone. It provides an easy to interpret step count with daily, weekly, and monthly retrospective comparisons. I can clearly see when I am smashing my walking goals or if I am slipping behind, a gentle reminder to up my steps and get more active.
Map My Walk is another great free activity tracker app available on IOS and Android devices. It records your walking route, time and distance and allows you to set weekly goals. It is very easy to use and provides easy to interpret charts and graphs to help you monitor and manage your walking goals.
Five quick exercises to complement your walking, ensuring your legs and core stay strong.
Wall Ball Squat
Side lying leg lifts
Heel and toe raises
Next week: Ways to progress your walking programme.
Be in with a chance to win a luxurious break to Fota Island Resort in Cork by simply sending us a photo taking part in the challenge, with 200 words or less about your favourite walk submitted below.
The winner will enjoy a two-night stay for two adults with breakfast each morning and dinner in The Amber Lounge on an evening of your choice at the resort, which is nestled at the heart of a peaceful island and just eight miles from the bustling city of Cork. Experience the great facilities onsite at Fota Island Resort, including many walking trails, an indoor swimming pool, the world-class Fota Island Spa, the exclusive Cove Restaurant, or enjoy tee time on the golf course. Discover all that the surrounding area has to offer with a visit to Fota Wildlife Park, Fota House and Gardens, the world-class English Market, Ballymaloe’s wonderful gardens and shops, the farmers market in Midleton, Ballycotton’s cliff walk and the beautiful blue flag beaches nearby. If you’re not lucky enough to win on this occasion, you can find out more about the autumn packages available at Fota Island Resort by visiting www.fotaisland.ie.
T&Cs apply: Prize is 2BB1D for 2 x adults, subject to availability. Non-transferable and not valid for July & August, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, seasonal holidays or bank holiday weekends. Valid 12 months.