How to walk yourself happy?
We know we need 30 minutes of physical activity on most days and when you think about it, you’re probably almost there. Any brisk walk of at least 10 minutes is good for our health. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate walking into your day to help you reach your 30 minutes.
- Walk your dog each morning or evening
- Walk to the local shops if you need anything
- Go for a walk with your family after dinner
- Housework and gardening count! Get moving with your vacuuming, weeding or mowing the lawn
- Limit the amount of TV you watch, try having a TV free day once a week with your family.
- Stretch your legs and walk to see a work mate instead of emailing
- Use your lunch break to go for a 10 to 15 minute walk, remember it all adds up!
- Try to get away from your desk during the day, walk the long way around to the printer or bathroom
- Use the stairs rather than the lift.
- Consider if you really have to drive, can you walk or ride instead?
- If you have to drive, park a little further away and walk part of the way
- Walk your children to school once a week
- If you catch public transport, get off one stop earlier or consider walking to your stop or station rather than driving.
Out and about
- Instead of catching up for coffee and cake, go for a walk or bike ride instead
- Go for a walk along the beach
- Have a picnic in your local park and bring a football, soccer ball or frisbee
- Ask your local council about walking trails or walking groups in your area
- Use the stairs instead of the lift, or walk up the escalator.
Tips to walk for happiness
If you’re feeling a bit flat, putting on your shoes and heading out the door can feel like an effort. Here are some tips to help you get out the door, when you’d rather curl up on the couch:
- Don’t think, just do it! Even a short, brisk walk of just 10 minutes can give you an energy and mood boost
- Accept that obstacles will come and go. Missing one walk or a week doesn’t send you back to the start. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just get back out there
- Write down how you feel after a walk. Read this when you don’t feel like going for a walk and remind yourself that the effort is worth it
- Set yourself a goal or challenge and write it down, start with small goals and work upwards then aim for a healthy reward for yourself and your family when you achieve your goal
Make it part of your day
It isn’t as hard as you think to incorporate short walks into your routine. We all have days when we are pushed for time, have family and work commitments, or are simply too tired or too cold to get out. Take a look at how you might overcome these obstacles below.
I don’t have time
- If you can find 10 minutes in your day then you definitely have enough time!
- Try: Just aim for three 10 minute blocks and you’ll be there in no time at all – try a walk at lunch time, walk to the shops, park the car a little further from your destination or walking the dog around the block. Remember, it all adds up
I’m too tired today
- This is exactly why you should be active! Remember by being active for 30 minutes each day you can reduce stress and tiredness and improve your quality of sleep
- Try: when you really don’t feel like it, bargain with yourself. Just go for 10 minutes, if you are still feeling lousy then at least you have still done 10 minutes
If you feel bored then it’s time to mix things up and challenge yourself
- Try: a new walking route, listen to your favourite music, or walk with a friend and enjoy a catch up
- Try: setting yourself some new goals or challenge yourself to something new, like walking up a steep hill nearby or an extra 5 minutes.
- You don’t need a gym membership or fancy gear to get your 30 minutes every day
- Try: Walking is FREE! So grab your sneakers and hit the pavement.
I do enough already
- Most South Australians do not do enough physical activity. Causal walking, like grocery shopping is not enough. It needs to be at a moderate intensity for at least 10 minutes
- Try: use a pedometer or stop watch to see how much walking you actually do every day.
I’m worried about my safety
- Try: walk on well lit, known routes, wearing light reflective clothing. If you’re listening to music keep the volume at a safe level where you can hear the environment around you. You can also walk with friends, children and pets
- Try: if you’re not sure about your mobility or ability to walk for up to 30 minutes be sure to visit your GP for advice before getting started
I don’t want to be selfish and go out on my own
- Taking time out to look after yourself can be one of the best things you can do to go back to everyday life refreshed and energised.
- Try: remember that it’s important to be active and think of it as a priority, as you would with any other important activity
- Try: work with your family to have 30 minutes of your own time, or simply book it into your diary and make it a regular appointment with yourself. Or, make it part of the family routine to use walking for travel and enjoyment rather than something you do on your own
Be walk smart
- Wear appropriate, supportive and comfortable footwear and clothing
- Protect your eyes and skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen, hats and sunglasses
- Stretch before and after walking or any exercise routine
- If you wear headphones, keep the volume at a level where you can still hear what is going on around you
- Drink enough water – 1 to 2 litres per day.
Count your steps
For improved health, we know we need 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week, and walking is one of the most achievable ways to get our 30 minutes. So how many steps make up 30 minutes? 10,000 steps per day have been recommended as the target that adults should aim for to improve health.
A pedometer is a small device worn on your hip or belt that counts how many steps you take. Some of the benefits of counting steps with a pedometer include:
- immediate feedback of the number of steps taken during the day
- enhanced self-confidence and motivation for maintaining and increasing physical activity
- having an accurate self-monitoring tool that assists in goal setting and recognition of progress in activity levels
Set yourself an individual target or get a group of work mates or friends together and get walking.“10,000 steps”, is a good program to get you going and motivated!
So take every opportunity to be active because each step you take is making you healthier and happier.