You already know that incorporating a brisk walk into your daily routine is one of the easiest and most effective forms of exercise. Unfortunately, busy schedules, weather or downright lack of motivation can prevent you from meeting that daily goal. Below, BCBSKS employer group wellness coordinator Jane Shirley shares some strategies that can help you transform an inconsistent walking routine into a daily habit.
A habit isn’t a goal, it’s a routine
It’s important to visualize your daily walk as a routine – something that will become a common aspect of your everyday life. As you start to incorporate walking into your routine, get in the habit of tracking your walks, even the short ones.
If you promise yourself a five-minute walk during the day, it will be easier to add a few more minutes to each day and before you know it, you’ll be walking for 15 minutes with no hesitation.
Figure out what the cue is for why you aren’t walking and then change your response
When you decide to forgo a walk, what was a factor in your decision? Was there something that triggered your behavior? Make note of it so the next time it occurs, you can be prepared to change your response to that cue. For example, if you decided not to walk because it was too chilly outside, tell yourself that you will find an indoor walking space to use instead.
Attach a new habit to an old one
You already have dozens of routines that make up your day, like brushing your teeth after showering, getting dressed before eating breakfast or reading the newspaper with your morning coffee. When it comes to walking, consider tying it to an aspect of one of your regular routines. For example, when you change out of your work clothes, immediately put on your walking shoes and go for a short walk.
Make a plan that includes where, when and what
Don’t just tell yourself you’ll walk after work. Be specific about what you’ll do. For example, tell yourself that you will walk around the neighborhood after work for 30 minutes.
Make it easy and satisfying
Technology makes it easy to get excited about walking. Download a new song or audiobook and look forward to listening to it while you walk. Also, consider giving yourself a small reward for incorporating walking into your routine. For example, leave a jar next to the door and every time you leave for a walk, put some money in it to later treat yourself to something you want.
Sources: “Atomic Habits” by James Clear; “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg