Being born and bred in Canberra, I love a good stroll! But as the year is getting started and life begins to get hectic, it’s difficult to get in the habit of regular exercise every week. Walking is one of the easiest and cheapest forms of exercise and really enjoyable if you know how to do it right. So without further ado, let’s talk about the who, what, when, where and why’s so you can get going today!
Who can do it?
This one is easy: ANYONE can begin a walking habit regardless of your age, fitness level or schedule. This is for you if you’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle or if you’ve previously been quite regular with your exercise but dropped off the bandwagon. If you’re like me and you’ve been sitting on the couch watching Netflix over the summer holiday season, this is especially for you!
If you do have any injuries, aches, pains or medical conditions that might be impacted by walking, please have a chat to your GP and/or a physio before you get going.
What to do?
You’ve been walking almost all your life so you’re already an expert! For this kind of walking though, aim for a brisk pace, ie. you should be able to talk, but not sing. If you are a bit of a novice, you can start with smaller distances and progressively increase your duration.
If you want to keep more of a track on your exercise, you could wear a pedometer and count your steps. This can be a good motivation tool so you can aim to progressively increase your steps per walk, or meet other targets you set out for yourself! For a bit of increased difficulty you can pick some harder trails or even carry some hand weights to push yourself further.
Make sure you wear some comfortable and supportive footwear ie. Not thongs or Ugg boots! There are a huge variety of shoes available for this kind of exercise so it really is up to you. My advice would be to try a shoe with a bit of cushioning and in-built support, and change it up if you’re noticing persistent foot or ankle pain or pesky blisters.
When to do it?
The best time for walking is either early morning or in the evening while the days are hot. This will 1: Reduce the risk of sun damage during the day, and 2: prevent the risk of heat exhaustion. Regardless of when you walk, please please please stay well hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you or find a walking track with water stations along the way. Dehydration will make you feel tired and possibly lightheaded, and that’s going to be a big deterrent to keep on going.
You may find it hard to incorporate a walk into your busy schedule but I promise there is always time for a bit of exercise. Try parking further away from work to get your walk in before and after, or even walk to work if that’s a reasonable distance for you. When catching up with friends you could suggest going for a walk together instead of the usual coffee date.
Where to do it?
We are very fortunate to have many walking tracks around Canberra and Queanbeyan. Check out this website for some popular routes: https://www.mapmywalk.com/au/canberra-canberra/. I’m a big fan of the Mt Taylor summit walk or the ‘bridge to bridge’ Lake Burley Griffin walk (pro-tip: find a track where you can have a sneaky coffee at the half way point!).
Why do it?
Walking is very simple form of exercise and the benefits are numerous. It can help improve your cardiovascular fitness, your strength, your balance and it pumps the body with endorphins. It can prevent chronic health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes or stroke. It can also help you lose weight if that’s what you need to do. Remember we have been recommended by Australian health authorities to do 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (i.e a brisk walk) per week. This could either be 20 minutes every day OR 30 minutes 5 days a week OR 45 minutes 4 days a week OR 1 hour walk 3 days a week. The combinations are endless!
Ultimately you’ll feel better for it both physically and mentally!
If you have any questions, concerns or if you’re finding it hard to find motivation, come in to see me and we’ll get you back on track!
Until next time!