Start Walking, Keep Walking: How To Stay Motivated (Even When It Rains)

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

So, you went out and bought the $120 walking shoes, a cool windbreaker and a reflective headband. And you set out one morning for a brisk walk around the block. Ahh, the cool morning air, the stillness of the time of day, and you came back feeling great. Later, you were a little achy, but nothing a tough nut like you couldn't handle.

So, same routine the next day, and the next...and the next...and the next - until those high-end walking shoes weren't walking any more. What happened? You were so sure this time, you were determined, gritty, focused and even a little motivated, though a nice cup of coffee sounded good, too.

What happened was what happens to every athlete. You lost your motivation to get fit. The first few days, even the first few weeks were propelled by adrenaline and dreams of quick results. But huffin' and puffin' can get tired quick - but there are things you can do to keep up your motivation.

Me Time
When you're walking, leave the music behind. Let your mind wander freely. Solve the problems of the world, think deep thoughts or what to have for dinner - think about anything but the fact that you're walking. Once you're "in the zone", that two-mile stroll will go by in no time.

Make It Routine
Same time every day, same number of days every week. Routines (or ruts as some call them) better equip us to do lots of things without thinking - everything from feeding the cat to...well, to walking every day.

Start Slowly.
Yes, you've heard it a million times, but it's true. If you go out on the first or second day, raise a blister and ache all day, just how eager are you going to be to do the same thing all over again tomorrow? Ain't gonna happen. Aches and pains are the number one reason new walkers become ex-walkers. It hurts - and it shouldn't.

Enjoy That Runners' High
Once you get your heart beating for at least 20 minutes at a stretch, and pushing a little air through the lungs, you'll notice something - maybe when you're driving to work after your morning jaunt. Aerobic exercise (that's what we're talking about here) in sufficient quantity (20 minutes or more at least) causes the brain to release endorphins - naturally produced, feel good chemicals. Look for the experience to kick in an hour or so after you finish a vigorous walk and marvel at how energized you feel - from exercise!

Notice The Little Things Changes in the seasons, the new shrub your neighbor just planted, the house that just went on the market - we often miss the details of life because we're zooming by them on our way to work. Get to know your little piece of the planet. It's fun.

Change Routes
Alternate routes for variety. Have a longer route for those days when you can stretch those 20 minutes to 40, a shorter route just to work the kinks out, and a weekend route where time just doesn't matter - you're walking!