We all probably know the benefits of walking outside, like increased Vitamin D from the sunshine, better brain activity because of the movement (which is why some boxers jump between rounds), and better overall wellness because of the physical activity. But working outside time into our daily lives can be very hard.
Sometimes, the barriers we have with walking are real, such as fear of injury or achy joints. We may need to use knee braces designed for walking. But most of the time, these barriers are simply mental. Overcoming mental barriers is not as easy, but here are some ways to do just that.
Make a Commitment
For most people, walking outdoors is not a natural act. It’s much easier to stay behind a desk, especially since we all have deadlines to meet and expectations to exceed.
A good accountability partner is often a good way to make a commitment such as walking outside more. Meet a friend for a walk at lunchtime a couple of times a month, and the embarrassment over your lack of progress will probably be enough to motivate you to do better.
Add 300 Outdoor Steps A Day
A device or app is usually a good way to start getting serious about a particular endeavor, such as walking more. You may consider using a pedometer. Check it fairly frequently during the day before you start an outdoor walking program, so you can establish a baseline.
Afterwards, check it several times a day so you can measure your progress. Most people find that it is much easier to reach the mythical 10,000 daily steps level than they first imagined. It would be.
While 10,000 is doable, it is also very daunting, especially if you are rather sedentary, as most people are. The best-planned walking programs usually fall flat when the participants realize they have 7,000 steps to go to reach their goals.
So, bypass the issue altogether by setting small, attainable goals. 300 steps a day is probably the equivalent of walking around the block, so it’s fairly easy to reach. Then, success breeds success, so the 10,000 gets closer every day.
To optimize your outdoor time, walk in a moderately hilly area if at all possible. That might mean a quick car ride to another area of town or at least another neighborhood, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Uphill walking creates a more rigorous exercise than flat walking, so you’ll feel even better after a hilly outdoor walk.
Park Far Away From the Door
Granted, walking across an asphalt parking lot probably is not what you had in mind when you committed to more outdoor walking, but every little bit helps. Also, don’t be afraid to take an extra lap around the building before you go in.
On a related note, try getting off the subway or bus a stop earlier.
Try a Walking Meeting
If the sun’s out and it’s not a meeting dependent on PowerPoint or another such medium, walk with your co-workers instead of sitting around a conference table. As a bonus, the brainstorming will probably be better, since everyone is moving around.
Set a Reminder
It will probably take several weeks to get into the outdoor walking habit. Until then, set a couple of reminders for every day. A morning stroll is a good way to get the blood flowing, a midday break from work is a great chance to invigorate yourself and reset your mind, and an evening stroll helps you unwind.
With a little planning and commitment, it’s much easier to incorporate outdoor time into your busy life.
About the author
Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.