10 ways to rock your walk

You’ve heard it many times: walking is a great way to get active. It’s cost-effective, it helps your cardiovascular health, it’s gentle on your joints, and it doesn’t require any special equipment.

Sure, sure. The truth is, walking can also be kind of boring.

You can banish boredom and increase your motivation by adding new things to your walking routine.

Here are 10 ideas to turn yourself into a walking rock star:

  1. Rock out. As an instant mood booster, energizing music is hard to beat. Download some new songs and create a special playlist that is reserved for your walking time only.
  2. See the light. If you can, find time to walk when it’s light out. You’ll enjoy the sunlight and benefit from the vitamin D. If you are heading out in the dark, be sure to wear reflective gear and take a flashlight or headlamp to shed some light on the situation.
  3. Pick up steam. On your lunch break, take a brisk stroll to a nearby coffee shop and enjoy the warm sips on the way back. At home, you can warm up with a hot beverage after a walk, or brew it to go and take it around the block with you.
  4. Walk the talk. A walking buddy provides welcome conversation and distraction; plus, making arrangements to walk with someone helps ensure that you won’t cancel out. If an in-person meet-up isn’t possible, grab your cell phone (and headset, if you have one) and book a gab session – or, to use a term borrowed from Georgia Barrington, a “Phone Chill”.
  5. Take baby steps. Strollers and wearable carriers are great for babies, and once your toddler is mobile, get him in on the action. When my son was little, we used all kinds of tricks to keep him moving down the sidewalk. We let him chase a mini soccer ball that was partially deflated, so it couldn’t roll too far. We checked out the house numbers and discussed the colour of each garage door. One time, I even tied a string to one of his large plastic cars and let him pull it around the block like a pet.
  6. Let the dog out. Dog owners are among the most hard-core winter walkers, mainly out of devotion to their furry friends. If you don’t have a dog but are craving canine companionship, extend the offer to a dog-owning friend, relative or neighbour (especially those who might find it difficult to get out in winter conditions).
  7. Find a winter wonderland. Ditch your same old route and head to a local park with a well-maintained walking path or trail. Even if it requires a short drive, it’s worth it for the change of scenery. Take in the natural landscape and let yourself re-discover the beauty of Canadian winter.
  8. Make it a mission. Take the long way when checking your community mailbox or returning something you’ve borrowed from a neighbour. If simple errands are within walking distance of your home or workplace, make it happen. You can also incorporate walking into your weekday work commute.
  9. Go high-tech. Whether it’s an activity tracker, step counter or GPS watch, the quantitative feedback about your distance or pace can be very motivating. Download an activity tracking app to chart your progress. You can also start a personal walking streak and post updates on social media to help keep yourself accountable.
  10. Track it old-school. During my university years, I was reading about exercise adherence and decided to create a pilot project for my dad, who played golf and tennis in the summer but whose winter lifestyle was mostly sedentary. He liked walking, so it was a natural choice, but I suspected a tracking system would prompt him to go more regularly. I ripped a page out of a calendar and instructed him to mark down each day that he walked for at least 20 minutes. We agreed on a target number of walking days for the month, and if he could reach it, I promised to buy him a new book as a reward. He was diligent about his walks, and he reached or exceeded his goal every month. Over time, it has become a habit that he truly enjoys – and after a while, he said I didn’t even have to provide the book prize anymore.

So, grab your boots, your music player, your friend, your dog, or your friend’s dog – anything that creates excitement for you to get out there. Walk on!

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