It’s happened again. I was walking almost every day. My joints felt loose, and my arthritic pain was minimal. Then I missed a day, then two days in a row. Then we had a few days of rain and I elected not to go to the indoor track. Then a dear friend died and instead of walking to ease the grief I stopped walking all together.
This is not the first time I’ve done this, and it might not be the last. Previous fall-off-the-wagon stops were because of minor injuries, overscheduling, and numerous issues related to the pandemic such as stay-at-home orders and parks being closed.
Here are my top ten tips to get walking again.
Beating yourself up about it is counterproductive. The stopping is in the past, the starting is now. Embrace it.
One loop around the track or block or a short trail is all you need to get started. Don’t overdo it!
Embrace the Joy of Beginning
This is a fresh start, and all things are possible. Have fun!
Look Back and See How You Did It Before
I keep exercise journals and as I go back and read them, I remember how much fun it was to keep moving. My past accomplishments motivate me.
Track Your Miles or Track Your Days
Maybe buy a snazzy new journal for this. Or use a fitness tracker. Set a reward schedule. Something small for finishing a week (a Starbucks coffee or new socks), something a bit bigger for a month (maybe a manicure or pedicure). Maybe at 100 days book a massage.
Enlist a Friend or Online Group for Support
Consider using a site like Meetup to find a group to walk with occasionally. Or simply post on Facebook asking any of your friends in the area to message you if interested in walking together.
Set a Trails Goal
I am challenging myself to walk all the trails in three local parks. The 15 trails are different lengths and have different degrees of difficulty. I made a post-it for each trail and have them on a whiteboard. After I complete a trail, I date it and move it to the done side of the board. So satisfying!
Choose a Beautiful Place If Possible
In the parks I appreciate the forest canopy, finding feathers, hearing bird calls, even seeing the occasional snake. You might enjoy walking around your neighborhood.
Nature Sounds or Headset?
Sometimes just tuning in to the sounds around me is enough. But as a writer, I sometimes listen to YouTube videos or podcasts about writing. I have an app on my phone where I can dictate any ideas for future books or essays inspired by the listening.
Have a Backup Plan
Where will you walk if it rains? You could go to an indoor track, but I also love heading to a small shopping center. The concrete can be hard on my feet but the people watching, and window shopping make up for it!
The Two-Day Rule
Once I have my mojo back, I try to follow the two-day rule. I can miss a day if busy, maybe even two. But without fail, if I miss more than two, I find it difficult to restart. So, no more than two consecutive misses. I feel so good in my body when I walk regularly. I’m back at it now and hope you will be too!
Have you stopped walking daily for whatever reason? Is it easy or difficult for you to restart? What benefits of walking do you miss the most when you don’t walk? Please add any tips of your own in the comments.