It takes three weeks to make or break a habit: resolve to increase your physical activity and get walking on January 1st. This will be the best thing you can possibly do for yourself, and by the end of the month you’ll be fitter, healthier and happier.
Walking is as good for depression as it is for bodily health. Being outside in natural surroundings relaxes the mind and distracts from worry and anxiety. There are very few physical conditions - including arthritis and back pain - that are not improved by sensible walking, but if in doubt consult your doctor before undertaking a programme of exercise. Don’t push yourself too hard too quickly, and remember to breathe deeply as you walk. Regular small doses of activity, gradually building up time and length, is the key to walking for health.
For those who want to change in a positive way, here’s a suggested programme:
Day 1 Walk from your door – wearing any shoes you like - for ten minutes at a gentle pace. Check your watch and note the point you reach in the time. Walk back home.
Day 2 Repeat Day 1, but walk in the other direction and note the point you reach.
Day 3 Repeat Day 1
Day 4 Repeat Day 2
Day 5 Now you’ve made a commitment and are on the way, go out and buy a pair of walking shoes. You don’t need boots unless you are determined to go on long country walks in rough weather, but get proper shoes with supportive soles. Decathlon has a good range with the cheapest less than 15€.
Day 6 Go for a scenic walk, in a local park, or by water. The Nantes-Brest canal towpath, which runs right across Brittany, is ideal. Walk out for 15 minutes and then back, trying to keep up a steady pace.
Day 7 Have a day off!
In WEEK 2, repeat the pattern of Week 1, but walk for 15 minutes in each direction. Take one rest day. Find new places to walk – variety is important for motivation. Buy a local map or ask at the mairie for walking leaflets.
In WEEKS 3 and 4 gradually increase your pace and build up to 20 minutes in each direction. Use your original Week 1, Day 1 walk from the house as a check on how much further and faster you can now progress.
Keep up your walking on a regular basis – get a dog, join a walking group (see Events for Brittany Walks) or find a friend who also wants to get fitter, and enjoy walking together. For significant weight loss, you will need to walk at a pace where you can only just about keep up a conversation!
For more information on Walking and Health... click here