Most people know that walking is good for health and fitness. You know about the benefits of walking for your mind and body, and you may want to walk to help maintain a healthy weight. If staying active was simple, everyone would do it, but we know that’s not the case. When you’ve had a tough day, you’re stressed, or you’re busy, it’s common to come up with excuses for not walking. Have you ever told yourself…
“Exercise is hard.”
“I can only walk for a few minutes before I get bored or busy.”
“It’s too (hot, cold, wet, windy, snowy, sunny) to walk today!”
If you struggle with negative self-talk, you’re not alone. It’s hard. I’m too busy. I’ll walk tomorrow. These are phrases many would-be exercisers use to avoid the daily workout routine. A University of Scranton study covered on MSN found that only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. January 12th is the most common day that people give up – only 12 days into the year! Most people still want to reach their original goals, but reasons not to walk start to appear. Each time you give in, these excuses become easier and easier to accept. You don’t have to let it happen though!
Exercise is incredibly important to overall health; a workout started young and often stays with you, ensuring a longer, healthier life with less likelihood of lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and arthritis. Walking is the best way for most people to get a good cardio workout and burn calories by getting active.
Here are some common excuses for why you may not be hitting your step goal (and how you can overcome them!
Note: If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)!
Reasons why you may not be walking today
Excuse: It’s the weather
Solution: Indoor walking + gear up for the weather
No matter where you live, the weather can make walking difficult – if you let it. Develop a go-to indoor walking location that you enjoy in case your regular outdoor walk gets disrupted by the weather. A mall is a great choice, or you can walk indoors on a treadmill if you have access to one. Malls, big box stores, and many museums are free to enter (they’re only expensive if you shop and stop). If the weather is often an obstacle where you live, you can look into purchasing a treadmill or finding a gym or community center that has treadmill access. In a pinch, you can try walking stairs in your office building or walking around your house or apartment.
Safety is most important, but most weather conditions can be managed with the right gear and planning. If you live in a wet area, a good pair of waterproof walking or hiking shoes can allow you to stay dry during light rain. A warm jacket and thermal pants with some good, non-slip boots can defeat cold and light snow. If heat and sun is the issue, try wearing light, moisture-wicking clothes with a good sun hat and plenty of water.
Excuse: I’m too busy
Solution: Morning/night walking + multiple short walks
It can be hard to work steps in when you’re busy, but most people live busy lives and many people are able to still get their steps in. If your normal or preferred walking time is continually disrupted with work, chores or other issues then you’ll need to get creative. Wake up a few minutes early and get in a brisk morning walk. Morning walking may be our best piece of advice to get more steps if you’re constantly too busy to walk. Alternatively, you can walk at night, or after dinner in the early evening. Make sure to stay safe – especially if it’s dark and there aren’t many people around.
Take advantage of small blocks of time by fitting in short walks. Short walks can be just as beneficial as long walks for health. If your walks mean breaking up long periods of sitting, they may even be more beneficial. If you’re able to get a 10-15 minute walk in, for maximum benefits try to ensure you’re walking at as brisk of a pace as you can for at least the middle period of your walk. Even if you can’t get a quick walk in, light activity is extremely beneficial as well. If that’s not even possible, at least try to stand up once per hour and walk around your home or office to get a burst of energy and improved mood from walking.
Excuse: I’m too tired
Solution: Go to sleep earlier + take the first step + keep a routine
The best thing you can do if you’re feeling constantly tired is to go to sleep earlier! Many people are chronically sleep-deprived, which can leave you feeling irritable and sluggish. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet, and turn off the phone or screen upon entering the bedroom. Try to avoid screens before bed as artificial light can interfere with sleep patterns.
For many people, light or moderate exercise actually boosts your mood and energy levels! The most important thing you can do is take that first step. Once you get going, you may find that you’re suddenly more energized than you thought. Unlike that mid-afternoon coffee, cola or candy bar break, a step break won’t give you a brief high and then drop your sugar levels into nap time territory. It’s also calorie-free and gives you health benefits rather than damages your health. The rise in the body’s endorphin level from exercise lasts long after you stop walking. Your mind will be clear and sharp, ready to face the rest of your day.
Try to keep a regular walking routine and boost your endurance and walking potential over time. If you’re going from little walking to heavy walking back to little walking you’re likely to get more tired and risk injury.
Excuse: Walking is lonely or boring
Solution: Walk with friends + find the fun in walking
Walking is the most popular form of exercise, and finding a group of like-minded walkers is easier than you think. You can check sites like MeetUp.com, or head to the local park or mall and introducing yourself to a group dressed in workout gear. Ask your work colleagues if they want to join your lunchtime step sojourn. A few sessions may lead to less office snacking, a weekly healthy food potluck, fitter employees and savings for your company’s health insurance plan.
Walking is incredibly versatile, and by changing up your routine you can make walking a lot more fun. Burnout and boredom is real, but by varying the intensity and location of your walks you can keep things fresh. Walking in nature is a great way to reconnect with your walks, as is practicing your photography or learning new things about your town. Even something as simple as walking your route backward may make a big difference.
Excuse: Exercise is a pain in my knee/foot/back
Solution: Talk to your doctor + get the right shoes + build up endurance gradually
Get a full physical before you begin any exercise program, to ensure there are no underlying medical issues. If you’re experiencing pain in a particular area, don’t ignore it. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to mitigate the pain and treat the underlying condition. Make sure to heal up, as walking will be there when you feel better.
Visit a footwear store specializing in running or walking apparel, and try on shoes until you find the perfect pair. The wrong shoes are a common reason for walking pain and injuries. Nothing stops a workout faster than sore feet, blisters, backaches or shin splints. Make sure you’re walking with the correct walking posture, as bad posture can lead to strains and increased wear on your knees and other joints. If you can’t walk with good posture, cut your walk short for the day.
Pay special attention to the intensity of your walks and lower impact where possible. If you’re experiencing pain, try to avoid incline or stair walking and stick to flat surfaces. Don’t go too hard, too fast and only gradually work your way up to a step goal. This can help you avoid injuries from fatigue and poor form.
Excuse: I always have the kids around me
Solution: Get the whole family involved!
Many kids are naturally active. Walking and running isn’t exercise or work to them, but fun and play! With the rise of phones, tablets, and video games, many kids are not as active as they should be. Getting active as a family can help both the kids and you get more active and healthy! Getting your kids to track their steps is often hard, but that’s ok. You can track your steps and let them run as much as they like.
If you don’t want the kids to run around the house, you have many options to get active together. All it might take is a frisbee or a ball and a small park or large back yard. If you don’t want to join in, try walking a lap around the playing area. You’ll still be able to keep an eye on them as you get active. Be aware that some great walking locations, like a mall or museum, might not be great for kids. You can mall walk with kids, of course, but they’ll probably expect to buy things if they’re there. While there are some great kids museums, smaller kids might not appreciate historic artwork or delicate sculptures. You definitely don’t want your kids running around near those things either!
You can also work some learning into step counting. You can show your kids the difference between metric and imperial units, or explain how exercise works to keep you healthy. Get your kids involved by planning active time, and consider giving small rewards like a family outing if the kids are active and away from their screens.
Excuse: I tried walking and it’s not working out
Solution: Create a walking program
Walking is so versatile that we’re almost certain you can have fun walking somewhere at some time. If you’re not hitting your goals or walks feel aimless, create a walking program. The average exercise plan requires eight to 12 weeks of consistent workouts to see significant improvements. Come up with a plan for how much you’ll be walking every day, where you’ll walk, and how fast you’ll walk. 30 minutes per day is a great start and you don’t have to get it all at the same time. Work in periods of faster or slower walking, and make sure to pick walking routes that are fun and interesting for you. If you don’t have the time for long walks, get more intense by adding hills, steps or faster walks.
It helps to write down your long-term goals from walking so that you have something to work towards. Be aware that many health benefits, such as improved mood, confidence, and endurance, will be achieved before pounds drop and belly fat melts away. Try to set intermediate goals, like hitting daily step milestones, drinking more water or taking a walk every day. Studies have shown that even light activity or small increases in the steps you take can make a big difference in your health and even decrease your risk of death!
You can also try Pacer’s Walking Programs (a Premium feature). There are a variety of programs for different goals and fitness levels. (Get Pacer if you don’t have it already). These programs give you a daily walk or workout that changes each day, with built-in rest days to help you recover. Of course, you can find alternative walking programs online, or you can come up with your own. Just make sure you don’t push yourself too hard and do take rest days periodically so that your body can recover.
If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.