Walking is one of the easiest, safest and most effective ways to improve your health and fitness. However, if you are a beginner you should be aware that there are still some very common walking mistakes people make. Avoiding these mistakes can save you from injury, discomfort and lacklustre results.
According to the latest study, a walk-in nature calms your mind and can change the way your mind works, contributing to better mental health. This new study shows the physical effects of the brain during a visit to nature. Most of us live today in cities and spend much less time in nature and in areas with green spaces than the generations of the past did.
Scientists also have shown that with only 30 minutes of walking outdoor helps us greatly in reducing stress, improves our state of mind and help to increase bone density. Also, a simple daily walk can turn into training that will help burn the calories, without much effort.
Walking Mistake 1: Starting Too Quickly
Just because walking is fairly easy doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously. If you live a fairly sedentary life and try to suddenly walk five miles a day you may experience some significant discomfort. Pushing too hard too fast can result in necessary recovery time. That doesn’t help achieve your fitness goals. If you are laid up on the couch due to strained or sprained muscles and joints, you’re not walking. Start slowly and gradually build up your pace, distance and walking goals.
As a walking beginner take it slow, otherwise you will lose your enthusiasm. After a long walk, you will start to feel tired and experience irritability, aches and pain. That means that you have started to quickly without giving a thought that you are at the beginning.
How To Fix It
Start with shorter and quicker steps.
Take breaks at every 30 min if your walk will be longer.
You should keep your walks fun and challenge.
Plan your routes and make them more interesting.
Don’t start to quickly keep only the routes around your house or city because you will get bored and in the end, you will give up walking. Spice it up.
Head to the hills, because walking up and down will give you a better benefit for your health than flat terrain. I am not saying that flat terrain is bad, just that if you want to use your walking to lose weight, walking on the hills is the better option.
Walking longer walks will add some interest and will challenge you to humdrum routine, but just remember that your body needs time to adjust to longer treks. Start baby steps
Walking Mistake 2: Not Setting Goals
Why are you walking? What are you hoping to achieve? We all know that repetition is the key to building a habit. You have to set your goals for your walking plan. They can be weight loss goals, distance goals or even time or pace goals. For example, a common and very popular goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day. That equates to about five miles and is what many health experts recommend.
After you have your goals written down on paper, it is time to make a schedule and track your progress. These two are essential for the success of your walking plan. If you don’t set goals it can be difficult to get out and walk every single day. Goals will help you to stay on track and they give a purpose to your efforts.
How to fix it
First, you should walk 3-4 times per week.
If your walking plan is for weight loss, you should plan to walk most days of the week, if it is possible, every day.
If your plan for walking is for speed or distance you should alternate your faster/longer days with easy/slow days. This will help you to not kill your feet. You can do this every day but it is best to have one day off for rest.
Planing your walks will help you to achieve any goals you may have. As an example, for the third year, I have signed up for a challenge. To walk 1000 mile per year. And, that helps me to push myself out so I can achieve my goal to walk 1000 mile a year. It is not as hard as it seems. Give it a try.
Walking Mistake 3: Not Planning Ahead
Okay, so you know you want to start walking. Don’t just follow others. I believe planning your own walking routes is the best experience anybody can have. This will help you to discover new places or to challenge yourself. These days it is quite easy to find routes, the internet is the main source to find the best routes for you. Also, there are guidebooks, there are OS maps routes database and different other mapping apps.
How to fix it
When you start planning your routes you should ask yourself a few questions. When are you going to walk? How far? How long? What will you do if the weather is bad? What will you do if your walking schedule is interrupted? Have a plan in place so you can easily adapt to changes and challenges. For example, maybe you plan to walk every day during your lunch break. Great, what do you do if it is snowing or the boss calls a lunch meeting? A treadmill or a gym membership with an indoor track can be a great way to make sure you can get your steps in each and every day.
After you have answered all the above questions use the following points to plan ahead:
1. Search for the perfect map for you. I don’t understand paper maps, so I prefer to follow a map on my phone. The best walking routes in Britain’s countryside is OS Explorer 1:25 000 scale maps because these show the most detailed routes. If you are planning to do an urban walk, there are some street map app that works well too. Please, do not use larger-scale maps designed only for driving, because these are showing off-road features and you may get lost.
2. Now, it is time to decide on your route start and the length of your route. By now, you should have a starting point in your mind. Some people at the beginning of their walking program have their starting point at their home, others are looking for some free parking near some nature spots. If you do not drive, the best option is to use the train or the bus. For me, I like to do my route and also photograph everything that I think is worth immortalising and then at the end of the route to go back home. Other prefer to stop at a pub or a cafe. It is up to you.
There are many areas with footpaths and these will generally allow you to plan a circular route, which I believe is more interesting than a straight out and then back. But, if you choose a straight route, then it is better to find a place where you can park your car that is it easy to go to the endpoint of your route. The length of your route is on your ability and the time you have available. It is a good idea to add in your planning time breaks and refreshments or even photos time.
3. Now it is time to plan your route. Don’t forget that there is a varied terrain. Sometimes I like to include in my routes woodlands, inland, hills waterway paths, so in this way, I am making my route more interesting. On my route, I am always searching for the best view. On your map, keep an eye on all these points.
4. When you are planning your route, don’t forget to check for danger points. The safety of your route is very important. Please, check the weather the day before, so you can plan your route accordingly. Sometimes a little breeze and light rain can become very windy and with a lot of rain, sometimes snow if you are up on the hills. Make sure you have your waterproof shoes and clothing. In the summer there may be thunderstorms, so be prepared for those too.
You should be careful when you cross-train lines, there are signs of any inconvenience. Also, it is illegal to walk on the motorway or to cross them. Search for the footpaths that cross motorways using bridges that are in use.
The most common coastal path danger is the tide. Some of the paths will disappear when the tide is close. Make sure you do not find yourself trapped. Every coast has a local tide table, please check them before you start your route. Include in your planning escape routes, emergency contacts, equipment and first aid.
5. Now with your plan ready it is time to get outside. Do a final check-up of everything, a final weather check and if you are going on a longer route, leave a copy of your planned route with a friend or a family member. Tell somebody where you are going. Now it is time to leave the house.
Walking Mistake 5: Buying The Wrong Shoes
Shoes are as important to walk as they are too running. Imagine if your feet will start to hurt. What will you do? Definitely you will stop walking and we do not want you to stop. The right shoes will be worth every penny and your time searching for them.
How to fix it
Make sure your shoes are comfortable. Your feet will change as you are getting older so, make sure they’re designed to fit your foot shape, stride and type of walking. There are different types of feet and sometimes what makes you feel better doesn’t feel the same to other people. Don’t buy your shoes because your friend has that kind of shoes. Your feet will hate you. Look for your footprint. Discover what type of feet you have. Do you have low arches, high arches, curved foot, neutral arches or flat feet? Take everything into consideration.
If you have any kind of back, knee pain, try to find more supportive shoes. Check out this article on foot problems and how can you fix them and then try to buy softer wider shoes.
Don’t forget that also your shoes must be waterproof, as you don’t know how the weather is gonna be. Also, if you’re going to be walking on trails then you’ll want trail walking shoes. They have a sole designed for better traction. Again, depends on what type of walking you choose and of the weather. You cannot go hiking with trainers, can you?
Replace your shoes when they start to show signs of wear. This is usually after about five hundred miles.
Some tips for finding the perfect shoes for you :
– When you buy your shoes don’t choose them because the size number inside of the shoe, try them on, see how they feel on your feet. Walk a bit in the shop, if you buy them online, send them back if they don’t feel right in your feet. Buy the right size for your feet.
– Remember the shape of your feet when you are buying your shoes, Try to choose the shoes that are as close as possible to your feet shape.
– I think it is best to buy shoes at the end of the day. The longer you are standing the more swollen your feet will be. So, at the end of the day, your feet will be expanded at their maximum width.
– The shoe should be large enough so that you can swing your toes without pressure. But not too big so your feet can slip inside the shoe without any help from you.
– When you are trying on your shoes, make sure that you are gonna have the sock that you may use when you will go out for a walk.
– Make sure that you buy the perfect shoes for your feet. Go walking.
Walking Mistake 6: Failing To Find motivation
People are motivated by different things. Some people are motivated to walk if it is a social experience. Others are motivated to walk because it gives them time to think and relax. Some enjoy the fresh air and scenery. Others enjoy walking on a treadmill and watching their favourite television show. Find the things that will motivate you to walk and embrace them. If you are a social walker then try walking with friends, family or join a walking club.
How to fix it
If there are days when you cannot find any motivation to go out, don’t give up trying to go out. When you wake up in the morning, get dressed immediately and get out the door. Just start walking and see where that goes. Does not have to be planned necessarily or anything else, just get out. I know that sometimes, our mind whispers in our ears things like: ‘Why the hell should I go out? What for? It is better if I stay in and watch some movies and eat junk food…
When all those thoughts are coming, just replace the words in a positive way and you will be able to change your way of thinking. Use positive thoughts about why you started your walking routine and with some determination you will push yourself out.
Sometimes, when I am not feeling going out, in my brain starts a war with positive and negative points on why I should go out and why I shouldn’t go out. Most of the time, my positive thinking wins. But I had a lot of practice. At the beginning staying in was winning but slowly over time this has shifted and is less and less. So do not get discouraged if you are struggling. Be optimistic. You will get there.
We all been there. Especially at New Year when we all have included start walking like the new year resolution only to stop doing it after a couple of days.
Hope that reading the article will help you to plan ahead, stay focused and motivated.
Find yourself a walking buddy, whether is a friend, a family member, a pet or joining a walking club if you do not have in your life anybody interested in walking. Having a walking buddy will ensure you will stick to your walking routine. After a while, I am sure that other people in your life will join you seeing all the healthy and happy benefits walking brings to you.
Finally, pay attention to your body. If you are feeling pain or discomfort assess the pain. Slow down or take a break. If you’re unsure, talk to your doctor and make sure you’re healthy enough for a walking fitness program.
Good luck in your new challenge and be proud of taking advantage of the great opportunities that walking will bring into your life.
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Until next time, Oana and Paula