Deciding to start a new exercise or walking routine is the easy part. Sticking with it day after day when things get tough can be a bit more challenging. But staying motivated to walk daily so you can lose weight, get fit and live a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard if you have the right strategies.
Setting a huge goal that completely overhauls your current lifestyle is more likely to overwhelm you and set you up for failure or disappointment, especially when you face inevitable plateaus along the way. Instead, choosing a few small, realistic goals with one long-term goal is a tried and true way to stay motivated to exercise daily. The key is to make your goals challenging enough to keep you walking every day without it seeming to be too much. Here are a few examples of smart walking goals:
- I’m going to walk for 30 minutes, 3 days per week and work up to 5 days
- I’m going to total 4,400 steps per day and build up to 10,000 per day
- I’m going to train for a 10K in six months and a half-marathon in a year
Once you have goals you want to achieve, write them on a piece of paper and keep them in a place where you’ll see them often. Once you reach one of your goals, cross it off and make a new one.
Committing to an organized running or walking event provides you with a challenge and a firm deadline you’ll need to work toward. If you don’t train for the event, chances are you won’t be able to finish. This can give you the motivation you need to get out and train when you’re wavering. The event could be anything from a 5K or 10K that you want to finish in a certain time to a distance you’ve never walked before, like a half-marathon.
Fitness apps like MapMyRun make it easier than ever to track things like distance, pace and calories burned. Another great metric to focus on is the number of steps you take per day. Creating a step goal and working each day to reach it keeps you active while making it fun. See if you can count the number of flights of steps you take, too, and try to vary your terrain.
There will always be days when you just don’t feel like exercising, but one great way to combat this is to have a dedicated training partner who will hold you accountable. In addition to getting you out the door, training partners also make walking more fun. This could be a friend, family member or even your dog.
When you set goals, it’s nice to have a reward to look forward to when you hit each milestone. This could include a new pair of walking shoes, a massage or a healthy treat. Whatever it is, giving yourself a reward for all the hard work you’ve put in is another way to make exercise a more enjoyable and positive experience.
Walking the same path over and over can get boring quickly. A good way to stay motivated and keep things fun and interesting is to use your walks to explore new areas. Once per week, drive (or walk) to a trail or nearby park. Doing this gives you something to look forward to and makes your walks feel more like an adventure than a chore.
Sometimes it’s the little things that keep you pushing forward. A picture on your phone background, listening to a motivational fitness podcast or an inspiring quote you keep on your bathroom mirror can all serve as reminders of why you wanted to get fit in the first place.