When you decide you want to make a big lifestyle change to feel and look healthier, it’s one thing to start with your diet, but it’s just as important to add more activity into your life. The most difficult part about exercising, especially when you haven’t done any in a while, is actually getting started. Putting that first foot in front of the other or even pulling on your fitness clothes.
So be kind to your body and to yourself. Don’t inflict upon yourself a long and intense exercise session if your body has been asleep for months or years. The pain will definitely outweigh the gain. If you push your body too hard and too fast, the results will be, giving up quickly, risk of intense pain and injury, and can lower you self-esteem. If you feel like that after one session, you aren’t exactly going to get excited about the next one! Don’t sprint and fall, walk slow and tall!
We’re not saying that walking will give you the fastest results either. But just like we don’t believe in fad diets, we are against fad exercise. The idea is to incorporate habits into your lifestyle slowly and for the long term, whether in terms of food choices or concerning your activity levels. So decide what your end goal is in terms of frequency and intensity, and aim to get there progressively.
If you’re someone who thinks that exercise isn’t for you, and you think that diet alone will get you to lose weight, please think twice. As much as losing weight through exercise only demands A LOT of working-out. Dieting alone can take longer and the overall benefits will be underwhelming. Indeed, improving your levels of activity will not only help you stay on track with your new diet habits, it will also lift your mood and help you sleep. The rewards are enormous. So, let’s start slow and build up.
The first goal is to start with 7500 steps a day. How much is 7500 steps? It’s approximately 6km or just under 5 miles. If that seems a lot, then build it up slowly. We are not asking that you go straight out for a 6km walk. It’s about getting those steps in throughout the whole day. This can be a challenge for all of us who drive to work, park in the office car-park and take the lift up to our desk, where we sit at all day. But it is possible. Here are a few ideas to get that step number up.
Slowly but surely:
Start by adding a few steps in at a time. Use a pedometer or an app on your phone to follow your progress. See how many steps you usually reach in an average day and try and add 100 or 200 at a time. For instance week one if you are at 4000 steps, go for a 5 min extra walk and see those steps go up. Add weekly and you’ll get to 7500 sooner than you think.
Getting to and from work:
- By car: try and park further away from the office if possible. You can start by the furthest car park space from the front entrance and slowly stretch the distance away from the office.
- By transport: get off at an earlier stop, or even several stops earlier. The further away you are the more you will walk. It might mean leaving home earlier, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
- By bike or foot: if you live close enough from work you can aim to walk the whole distance to work or back as an end goal. You can always start off with driving to work and walking back or vice versa. Whatever works best for you.
Take a walk break:
Sitting down the whole day is tiring in itself. Try and take 5-10 minute breaks in your day where you can walk around your office building or down the street and back. At lunchtime, why not take your lunch to go and walk to a nearby park. Or simply take a longer lunch break and go for a 15-30 min walk. This will not only help you get your steps in, but also help with your productivity levels. What boss would say no to that?
Tackle those stairs
You’ve heard it before and that’s because it’s an actual thing. Just like distance, start with one level at a time. The most beneficial is taking the stairs up, taking the stairs down can be hard on the knees and joints and we don’t want you hurting yourself. Taking the stairs up is also a double bonus. Not only are you getting more steps in, but those steps are like double burn on the muscles.
Walk and talk:
If you don’t like the idea of walking alone, get someone to join you on your step mission. It can be a colleague who might like to stretch his/her legs too, it can be walking on the weekends or in the evening with your partner, it can also be walking with your dog. Walking with someone can give you that support you need to keep going, and it can even become something to look forward to. It can be your moment of gossip, your moment of quality one-on-one time, it can be the moment to vent. Whichever you choose, it’s a social thing. Just be careful not to rely on that person to the point where if they stop, you stop. It’s still all about you and your well-being. If you notice your “person” isn’t encouraging you, don’t count them in. You can always rely on a good playlist or podcast instead.
If you have a meeting at work scheduled, you will stick to it, if you have a doctor’s appointment you will show-up, because you committed to it in the first place and don’t want to let anyone down. So schedule in your “longer” walks, or even your shorter ones. And commit to them so you don’t let yourself down either. Writing down your walks and goals in your diary will help you to stick to them. You can also use reminders or sticky notes if you need to. Just consider it to be your appointment with your newly improved you.
According to health.com, it takes 10,000 steps a day to burn 500 calories, but let’s start with 7500 for now, which would be about 375 calories. You can increase that number as you set new goals. And don’t forget, it can be your end goal and your first goal, nothing is stopping you from aiming higher once you get there!