Two women walking on a public footpath

Walking may be one of the most accessible activities around, but if you haven’t been regularly active for a while it can still feel daunting to step out and give it a try. Thankfully there are a number of easy things you can do to ensure you’re ready to put your best foot forward and start building a walking habit that lasts. Take a look below for some tips to get you started.

Dress for comfort

Comfortable footwear is essential, so try to wear shoes or boots that provide adequate support and aren’t likely to cause your feet to ache or form blisters. Also make sure you’re dressed for the conditions – walking at a brisk pace will warm you up but still make sure you’re wrapped up warm in winter and if you have a waterproof coat, it’s not a bad idea to wear that if it looks like rain might be on the way.

Start small and build up

Even a short walk around the block will make a difference if you haven’t been walking for a while. So start small and only do as much as you’re comfortable with. You’ll find you can quickly build up the distances you cover.

Raise your breathing rate

Try walking briskly enough that you’re still able to hold a conversation, but wouldn’t really be able to sing. Raising your breathing rate is an important part of improving your cardiovascular fitness, so its not so much about how far you go in those early days, but how much you get your breathing rate up.

Get motivated by music

Listening to music can help take your mind off the effort involved in walking, as well as improving your mood. If you want some song suggestions for keeping your walking pace up, why not listen to “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith or The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). Altogether now: “And I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more…”!

Mix it up

Adding variety to your walking routes can really help keep things interesting. If you have a route you know and you’re comfortable with then that’s great, but if you want to be more adventurous, try a few new routes and explore your local area – you never know what you might discover.

Track your progress

Most smartphones today have fitness tracking apps that can help you keep track of your progress and set yourself targets for continuous improvement. If you have a health tracker like a Fitbit or a smartwatch, these can also be useful tools. Otherwise, just try to keep track of how long and how far you walk each time, and you’ll start to see improvements quicker than you expect.

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