Despite the fact that most of us do it every day without even thinking about it, walking is actually one of the best ways to increase our fitness, improve our health and boost our moods – if you do enough of it. By putting one foot in front of the other to get your body up off the sofa or out from behind your desk you’re quite literally making the first step to a happier, healthier lifestyle.
It’s not rocket science, we know it’s good for us, and yet the average Brit walks less than 4,000 steps a day, a number significantly less than the recommended 10,000. Thankfully, here at Race At Your Pace we’re on a mission to change that, and so while the whole world has gone mad for walking, we thought we’d share our top walking workout tips.
Do The Numbers
Tracking how any miles you’ve clocked every day can be really motivating. Put simply, there’s no better incentive to get up and go than realising that you’ve barely managed to hit 1,000 steps on a Sunday afternoon.
Tracking technology such as Apple Watches and Garmins are great for logging steps, as are free apps such as Strava. For those less technologically minded, using a good old fashioned map and our handy monthly trackers is an easy alternative – plus it can be a really helpful visual reminder to put your trainers on if you stick it up on the fridge!
Mix It Up
They say that variety is the spice of life, and that’s certainly true when it comes to fitness. So, make sure you plan your week of walking activity carefully, by including a mix of hilly hikes, long scenic strolls, and a few short speed-walks to the shops or around the block.
Another great way to improve your fitness is by varying different activities. So why not try walking to the park to do a HIIT workout? Or perhaps you want a more low-impact activity like cycling to rest your knees.
So, you’ve decided to commit to doing some more walking, but what is your new goal going to be? Make sure you push yourself hard enough that the end result is difficult enough to make you sweat (literally and figuratively!), but not too much of a challenge that you end up injured or un-motivated.
Start by understanding your fitness level and abilities with our free walking pace calculator, then work out how many miles you can realistically achieve in the time you have free to complete them. From there you should have a good idea of where to start with your walking workouts; we suggest beginning with a slight challenge and then working your way up to a really big one once you’re into the swing of things.
Do It Together
Like many sports, walking to improve your fitness is often most enjoyable when you’re part of a team who spur each other on. There is great joy to be found in going on a leisurely walk with a friend, namely catching up while also getting some fresh air and exercise. The best part? By agreeing to meet a friend at a certain time or place you’re committing to getting out to cover a certain distance, so there’s no room for excuses!
Alternatively, if you have a family and are finding it hard to find the time to stay fit, get the kids involved in your walking too. We have some great kids challenges where the little ones can win medals for hitting their goals, so you’ll all feel triumphant afterwards.
Set Yourself A Challenge
Speaking of medals, it’s not just kids that get some bling for participating in virtual challenges. To celebrate you completing any Race At Your Pace monthly challenge (no matter how big or small the distance) we’ll send you a bespoke distance medal in the post. Of course, it’s not all about the medals, and the simple act of signing up for a challenge you have to complete in a month is enough of a commitment to make sure you stick to your goals and improve your fitness once and for all.
If you end up getting the challenge bug, even better. Follow the Race At Your Pace social media channels and you’ll soon find there are a whole host of others out there on a similar fitness journey to you!
All The Gear, Every Idea
When you’re making those tentative first steps to increase your walking, just getting your old trainers out of the back of the cupboard will do. Once you start thinking about building up to bigger distances and more frequent walks, you need to make sure you’ve got the right shoes to avoid any injuries.
On top of the obvious (and horribly painful) blisters, a badly fitting shoe can be bad news for your Achilles, knees and ankles too – so do some online research, head to your local sports or outdoors shop, and make the purchase. Remember, a good pair of walking boots doesn’t have to cost the earth and the investment will be well worth it when you’re on your fifth mile and still blister-free.
Distraction Is Key
If you’re guilty of heading out for a walk only to find yourself back on your doorstep within 20 minutes, you might need a distraction to help you amp up your activity output. Podcasts are popular with walkers, and can even be used as time goals for walks, with one episode acting as the length of the exercise. Alternatively, you might like to lose yourself in a fictional world and forget about putting one foot in front of the other while you listen to an audiobook.
Of course, when you’re out walking you are also often surrounded by natural beauty that you might otherwise miss. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a fiery orange sunset, a gaggle of ducklings or some daffodils bursting into bloom.
Get Started with Race At Your Pace
If you’re feeling inspired to get your walking boots on and improve your fitness with some walking workouts, Race At Your Pace has an array of monthly walking challenges to choose from. With distances ranging from 5 to 300 miles you can start small and build all the way up to the mammoth, making it a great way to gradually improve your fitness. You’ll have a month to complete the challenge, plus the added incentive of a shiny medal and a team of fellow Race At Your Pace walkers behind you, so what are you waiting for – sign up today!