9 tips to encourage the walking habit

June 30, 2015

Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can contribute to controlling your diabetes. Here are 9 tips to help you make walking a part of your everyday life.

9 tips to encourage the walking habit

1. Stroll to another mailbox

Instead of leaving outgoing mail in your home mailbox, walk your bill, magazine subscription or birthday card to the government mailbox a few blocks away, or even to the post office if it's within a mile from your home.

2. Return misdelivered mail on foot

It happens to everyone; you get a letter that should have gone to the house one or two blocks over.

  • Instead of marking it "wrong address" and clipping it to your mailbox, look at the post as an opportunity to get a few minutes of activity, some fresh air and a chance to meet a neighbour.

3. Take your newspaper for a walk

When you step outside for your morning paper, take the opportunity to go around your block one time.

  • The fresh morning air will help wake you up sans caffeine, and you'll knock off five minutes of exercise from your 30-minutes-a-day goal before you even sit down to have breakfast.

4. Use your sidewalk

Begin gradually with a 15- to 20-minute walk.

  • Start strolling slowly for about three to five minutes, then pick up your pace for 10 minutes and cool down for another three to five minutes.
  • Each week, add two to three minutes to the faster portion of your walk.
  • Within a few weeks, you'll be up to walking briskly for 30 minutes most days a week.

5. Clip on a pedometer

Clip it on first thing in the morning, and this handy little gadget will keep track of how many steps you take that day — and subtly encourage you to take even more.

  • Try to take 500 additional steps each week, aiming ultimately for as many as 10,000 steps a day.

6. Keep a step log

It takes approximately six months for a new behaviour to become habit.

  • To help you lock in your walking habit, write down your steps after you take off your pedometer every night.
  • Recording your progress helps you stay focussed.

7. Use your car to clock errands

Put a sticky note on your dashboard that says "Clock a route" to remind you to check the distance on all the places you typically go in a day.

  • Is the library a kilometre away?
  • How about the ATM?
  • Many people don't realize how many errands could be done on foot, with a little planning.

8. Make after-dinner walks a habit

Instead of collapsing in front of the TV, create a tradition of post-meal strolls with a partner.

  • If you have young kids, you can play games to keep the little ones entertained.

9. Lace on your walking shoes

Footwear designed for walking will encourage you to move and will decrease your risk of injury.

  • A good shoe should be flexible in the ball of the foot, but not in the arch. (A shoe that bends in the arch can put strain on tendons in the feet.)
  • The heel should be cushioned (because that's where your foot strikes) and also rounded to encourage an easy and speedy heel-toe motion.
  • Whether you have low or high arches, the salespeople in a competent fitness store will watch you walk barefoot and help you choose the features you need for the type of walking you plan to do.
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