Fitness walkers begin the New Year with good intentions and high hopes. We plan to get in a daily walk, and increase our speed, distance and condition. By the end of January, however, many exercisers have lost momentum, looking at all the snow and ice out there, and shivering in the cold.
All is not lost. Here are several ways to reenergize and get back on track.
Rewrite those resolutions. If you can’t walk every day, forgive yourself—no doubt you are a well-meaning, busy person. Walk when you can. Find days and times that work for you. Lunchtime at your office, even if only a half-hour, might be a good opportunity to lace up and get out. Eat a healthy lunch at your desk afterward.
In a USA Today article, Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, says, “Given the fact that lack of time remains the most common reason people give for not maintaining a regular exercise habit, I recommend that individuals try squeezing in mini-workouts. For example, try 10 minutes of stretching and calisthenics (push-ups, knee bends, jumping jacks and sit-ups) in the morning, a brisk 10-minute walk at lunch or 10 minutes of resistance exercises in the evening."
If you want to walk and still spend time with your loved ones, take your kids or your partner along before dinner. You might have to walk a little slower—or faster!—but you’ll keep two resolutions at once and have a great time.
Rethink your route. Peaceful parks or pleasant streets can change in the upstate wintertime. Some park trails won’t be plowed, and snow banks may narrow your walking strip to a few inches of icy road. You will need to put your safety first. Choose parks with paths that are snow-free and well-maintained. Wider streets with pavement showing through the snow are best. Always walk facing traffic, as far to the side of the road as possible. Wear grippy shoes and reflective gear. And stay alert for cars that may skid. Be prepared to leap away onto the icy sidewalks if need be!
Reconsider the great indoors. Most walkers prefer to stride out into the open air. But in the first months of the year, the open air can be pretty brutal. Contemplate the warmth and shelter of a gym’s indoor track. Generally, you can choose among running, jogging and walking lanes. You may be able to schedule your walk more easily, since you won’t be racing sundown on the dark streets. You’ll be more comfortable, so you can stay longer and get in a better workout. The Albany YMCA offers an indoor track.
Follow these guidelines, and by the end of February, you will be much more satisfied with your walking resolutions. Also, spring won’t be far away—we hope.