Walking, a hop, skip, and a jump back to healthy habits

Scientific research has shown that a new habit will transform into routine after six full weeks of implementation (without any cheating or missed days). I suggest a longer adjustment period, a full three months, before my clients see results and start feeling the positive effects of their new routine.

The number one mistake I see people making is to try and make drastic changes too quickly. I favour small changes and reasonable goals, which have a bigger impact on overall health and energy. This brings me to the point of today’s article, the beauty of WALKING.

Why it is so great

Walking is a great form of physical activity for several reasons. For most of us, it is ALREADY a part of our daily routine; this means that with a few tweaks and a bit of extra planning, we can turn walking into an important source of exercise. Walking does not require any special equipment or a gym membership and it allows us to get to our destination, making it a healthy and accessible way to travel. Lastly, walking reduces our carbon footprint, making it one of the most environmentally friendly ways of getting around.

Walking daily

The simplest way to integrate more walking in your day is to add it to your routine, and to suppress non-walking means of travel.

A few examples are:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator in your workplace, your home or in shopping centres;
  • Getting off the city bus 3 to 4 blocks before your usual stop;
  • Taking work breaks standing or doing a lap around your building instead of eating at your desk
  • Walking to pick eggs and milk up from the corner store instead of driving there.

“The trick is to take everyday errands and ask yourself
if they can be done by foot.”

Creative ideas to increase our steps

Another foolproof way of sticking to these small changes is to turn it into a two-person activity. Why not challenge your partner to a step-counting competition? The person who makes the most steps in a day or week gets dinner cooked for them, or the weekend off from doing the dishes. There are some incredible apps for smart phones as well as gadgets that track daily steps and physical activity.

Suggest for friends to meet up before a night out and plan accordingly to be able to walk to the party or restaurant.

Instead of meeting at your favourite café, take your warm beverage of choice to go and head to the nearest green space for that friendly catch-up session.

Though it may seem obvious, the best way to get more exercise without breaking the bank or rearranging your entire schedule, is to do more of something you already do.

I have stood by this method for years and have seen a positive impact in my own health as well as that of my clients. Just remember, there will be days when you walk less, when you take the elevator at the office, when you prefer a cab over the 5 blocks it will take to walk home, and that’s okay as well. If you fall, just get up, and try, try again.

Locomotion and keeping walking safe

As with any physical activity, there are some risks to walking that can be easily managed with the right footwear and planning.

As walking tends to have a big impact on the hip, knee and ankle joints, it is important to have the right footwear. Look for shoes that leave a bit of wiggle space for your toes and have a nice solid base with good ankle support.

Another helpful tool is to plan your route beforehand and give yourself ample time to get to your destination. Rushing increases the chances of a twisted ankle or hip as well as lower back discomfort, especially if it is new to your daily routine.

  • Isabelle Moncion
Gabrielle Coulter

Gabrielle Coulter is both a choreographer and a healing educator across various forms of movement. She has been actively involved in the fitness industry for about fifteen years. Her curriculum includes contemporary dance, yoga fusion, YogaJam, GROOVE, and movement therapy for physical and emotional rehabilitation.

Passionate about health and well-being, Gabrielle recently contributed to the emergence of a dance and yoga community in Gaspé. She has been in charge of various philanthropic projects, including fundraisers for L’Aid-Elle, Accueil Blanche Goulet and 60milliondefilles.org, a non-profit organization based in Montreal bringing education to girls and young women in economically disadvantaged places.

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