If getting in shape always seems to be something you’ll start tomorrow (or January 1), it’s time to change things up. These six walking resolutions are easy to commit to and are healthy habits that will give you a head start on reaching your fitness goals.
WALK AT LEAST 30 MINUTES EVERY DAY
Instead of setting lofty and often unreasonable goals, start small. Work on increasing your walking duration to at least 30 minutes per day, which can lower your risk for disease, improve your mood and help you lose weight. After a few weeks, you can increase two or three of your weekly walks to up your step count even more and increase your calorie burn as your cardio improves. But no matter how far you walk, the point is to get into a routine of daily exercise. The rest of your goals come with time.
FIND A WALKING BUDDY
A dedicated training partner can be motivating and keep you on track on the days when you don’t feel like exercising. Plus, it’s a great way to be social. Consider joining a walking club or plogging group or enlisting your spouse, best friend or other family members. Bonus: Your dog counts, too.
WALK YOUR FURTHEST DISTANCE
While small goals add up over time, it’s always good to have a goal that pushes you beyond what you think you might be capable of, like a walking event. From 10Ks to the marathon, there is something out there for everyone, and there’s no better time to begin training for a long-distance event than right now.
INCORPORATE STRENGTH TRAINING TWICE A WEEK
If you want to improve your walking performance so you can increase your cadence and distance (while also preventing injury), you’ll need to strengthen muscle groups like the core and glutes that are commonly neglected during walking. A resolution that focuses on yoga, bodyweight exercises at home or hitting the weights in the gym twice a week helps you get in better walking shape and be healthier overall.
WALK SOMEWHERE NEW ONCE A WEEK
One of the big problems with any fitness routine is boredom. Doing the same workout in the same location day after day can eventually become tiresome and mentally challenging. That’s why getting out of the neighborhood and exploring a new trail or park is important to stay fresh and keep your routine exciting. While it might not always be possible, when you have a little more time try to head to a location you’ve never been before for your workout. It will not only make the time fly by, but you’ll also keep your muscles from adapting to the same terrain and get in a great workout.
GET MORE QUALITY SLEEP
Even though walking is a low-impact activity, a big part of being able to walk every day as you increase distance and intensity is recovering properly. While stretching and icing sore joints are certainly part of the equation, one of the most overlooked aspects of recovery is making sure you get plenty of high-quality sleep nightly. Inadequate sleep can negatively affect mental and physical health, increasing stress hormones, elevating your risk for obesity and suppressing your immune system. If you aren’t doing so already, make it a point to shut off your devices an hour before bed and sleep for at least 7–8 hours each night.