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Walking every day: Keeping your New Year's resolutions

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.

Comments

  • Silence Dogood 4 years ago

    Great thoughts Jennie. Like many people, I use walking as an alternative to jogging and it's often a challenge to keep it interesting. I find it's more effective for me if I focus less on a commitment like "I'm going to walk every day for a month" and focus more on something like "I'm going to get regular exercise outdoors." For many people doing one thing over and over breeds boredom, which brings the inevitable challenge of identifying new and different ways to make that thing more interesting. The reality is that after a while, you can't.

    Think about it like this: How many ways can you dress up cheese pizza? The trick is to not commit to eating only cheese pizza in the first place. Commit to eating a variety of foods, even if you know in the end cheeze pizza will be in the mix quite a bit. (Probably a bad analogy for a health-related column, but hopefully you get the point...)

    Anyway, thanks for your column. Please write more! Walking is living.

    SD

  • Jennie Grey 4 years ago

    Hello, Silence Dogood! Thanks so much for your comments. I love the pizza analogy (but it makes me hungry while I walk!). I will think about your "inevitable challenge of identifying new and different ways to make [walking] more interesting." That would make for a good column, and I will give you credit and an imaginary pizza with everything as thanks!

    Take good care,

    Jennie

  • Silence Dogood 4 years ago

    Outstanding idea! The next column: Top 10 Ways to Keep Walking Exciting. I'm not sure if pizza would be one of those, but given your experiences I'm sure you've got some creative ideas.

    I suppose for true trekkers, walking is always a pleasure. But for those who may be on the fence or who are still building the habit, it's great to vary the routine or think of ways to spice it up (although spectacular scenery does quite a bit in that regard).

    My folks have spent the last 15-20 years doing walking tours on all seven continents, so I come by my interest in walking honestly. Would love one day to see the Milford Track, or to hike to Machu Picchu.

    Based on your bio and where you've lived, I'm sure you've seen some terrific sights. You've got to write your column more frequently and regale us with stories.

    Will be reading. Cheers.

    SD

  • Semaj Cherlagne 4 years ago

    Excellent article, as to be expected from you Jennie! I look forward to your future articles. What about incorporating dancing into your walks? Probably a silly idea for elves in Liynendel, but I thought it work mentioning. ;)

    -Semaj

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