Are you looking for a sustainable, yet effective way of keeping fit? Your next step could be to take up walking.
A survey in the US found that walking is the most popular form of physical activity among 70% of adults. This is sustained even in the elderly, above 65 years of age.
Looking to join in the movement? I have added several of my personal favorite & tech-savvy ways of making walking fun.
Stay on and browse through any of the below!
When relocating overseas, I had to sell my car back home. It was a huge change for me. I was terribly used to using a personal car for even going to a nearby convenience store. So, I'd just tried walking, and it turned out to be a positive!
I now get around mostly on foot. I love walking in the mornings with my children to nursery or school. Just noticing a new pop-up or stopping by a butterfly stretching out its wings can make my day.
Convinced that walking is good for you? It is one of my personal top prescriptions for patients. Step on it and start exploring more below!
What Are the Creative and Techy Ways of Walking More?
Starting a new exercise can be daunting. The usual challenges are maintaining the habit or just getting started.
I like to make an activity enjoyable to get me coming back to it.
Here are some fun ways to spruce up walking with some cool tech.
Leveraging smartphones and wearable tech
1. Smartwatch - Prompting and Tracking
Pairing up with a smart health tech device can get you into a new habit of walking. Use the features contained in all the latest smartwatches:
- Movement reminders - Scheduling in your walks. To get over initial inertia, give yourself that extra push. Get a cute reminder or a buzz on your wrist to set off on the next trail. Sometimes we are swarmed with other activities and get distracted. Forget no more with these reminders.
- Automatic tracking - What can be measured can be improved. Journal the number of steps, track the duration of exercise, and even tag your heart rate. It can be exciting to see improvement over time, leading to more consistency in walking.
- Walking challenges - Spice things up, and set up unique milestones to hit every once in a while. Hit 15,000 steps in a month or walk that extra mile. Give yourself an extra purpose.
I have included these as a different category from smartwatches. These are fail-safe and super simple devices that just work for tracking.
These are more versatile than just being on your wrist. They can take the form of clips, carabiners, and tags. Stick them on your bag or coat and let them do their job.
A huge plus point would be the hassle-free use and usually better battery life.
3. Fitness Trackers
This is a middle-ground between low-tech pedometers and smart-watches. I'm planning more content to cover this large area.
Using smartphone apps (different types)
4. Walking apps
Gamification helps to have fun while walking. Incorporate some trendy apps such as Pokemon Go and Pikmin Bloom.
These games work by tracking your steps and rewarding you with new features within the game.
For example, get that mythical creature by completing special tasks in Pokemon Go. Pikmin Bloom rewards you with ingredients and more plants for making up your garden.
5. Habit-forming apps
This is one of my favorites. Form a new habit of walking regularly by using self-improvement principles. I would recommend an easy way to get into this by using the latest apps.
These clever developers have incorporated various elements together to help you get into a new habit. This is not an exhaustive list that includes self-improvement, journaling, reflecting, gamification, and just having fun!
I would test out Habitica on the Google Play Store or App Store. These guys incorporate excellent RPG (role-playing) elements into daily activities. So level up both your character AND personal fitness!
6. GPS tracking apps
For those who are more visually oriented, keeping track of your walks on maps could be valuable. Use GPS (global positioning service) to plot out your daily walks and look back later.
Strava is a popular app that supports GPS tracking and walking.
Do fun and creative walks such as this one involving patterns.
7. Community Health apps, Fitbit app
With the Fitbit app, you can now add friends and see their progress over the week. I enjoy getting a weekly update on how my wife is doing with her steps. (And even get quite competitive on the total numbers - which motivates me to keep up with my own walking).
Bring this further by joining groups or communities. Get a buddy to keep you accountable and meet new people along the way. What better way than to partner with like-minded individuals on your journey to self-improvement?
Miscellaneous ideas to consider
8. Audiobooks or podcasts
What better way than to be productive while having a nice walk in nature? Get on some audiobooks or podcasts.
Since walking can be paced at an individual level, you can always opt to take it slow and listen to something along the way.
“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” — Larry King, CNN
Audible would be a good way of catching up on those books you want to finish reading. I also like to mix in podcasts in between to get some fresh ideas.
9. Maps - planning walks into journeys
A cheap and free option to get started here. This one might take a bit more planning than others, though don’t let it take away the fun! Think of it as a fun quest to do for the day.
Try ‘scheduling in’ or adding walks to your daily routine by planning your route. A few ideas that you could try sprinkling in over the weeks could be:
- Taking the bus and stopping a stop earlier for a quick walk
- Parking closer to a nearby park that's on the way to your destination and taking a quick walkthrough
- Doing interchanges or crossing different stations (ie. switching to different lines or varying modes of transport to get some activity in)
10. Dog / Scenic & Historical Walks
Just having fun here! Add anything that you like, pets, friends, or a theme to your walk.
You could do a 'historical' theme or plan out a 'spooky' theme. Heck, I used to get my walks done in a nearby graveyard during the pandemic.
What Is Walking for Health?
Walking for health is a way of improving overall physical and mental well-being.
Let's look at what the professionals recommend for exercise:
This means that they recommend a speed slightly faster than a leisurely saunter or a ‘brisk’ walk. Roughly, half the speed of an average jogging session.
Personally, I would take any amount of walking and add them up over the week. It is best not to get too caught up with specific definitions when starting out. After all, some amount of walking is better than none at all.
How Can Walking Benefit You
Walking as an exercise has many health benefits:
- Is low impact in physical nature, minimizing the wearing out of joints
- Easily adjusted and tailored to various individual medical conditions
- Easy to get started with, so carers or friends can join in at any time. Best of all, totally FREE!
- Improves muscle, lungs, and heart all at the same time + additional vitamin D from being outdoors in the sun
- Longer term, reducing environmental emissions and improving air quality just by way of getting around on foot versus a motorized vehicle
I am currently working on a scientific overview of the latest evidence of walking for health. So check back here soon for the link! (TBC: the science of walking article link)
There are many fun ways of taking your first step into the world of walking for health. These tech-savvy tips can help people of all ages to get started and keep up their motivation.
Remember that consistency is key. Start small, persevere, and remember to just have fun! The physical and mental benefits will come along as you keep up the habit.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I achieve 10,000 steps at home? (How much is this?)
The length varies from 6 to 8km (3.7 to 5 mi. This depends on a person’s height and stride length. And can take a duration range of 40 to 60 minutes on average.
2. What if I only get 5,000 steps a day?
This may be the lowest recommended amount, but for most people will fall below the CDC’s recommended 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Again, any amount is better than none! Log this and maybe add in more steps the next day!
I've also written an article about the protective benefits of going over 5000 steps here.
3. How long is recommended? Is 30 minutes good enough?
The CDC and NHS recommend 150 minutes of ‘moderate’ intensity activity within a week. Spread this out to different days across the week.
This works out to about 30 minutes across five days a week.
4. Is 20,000 overactive? How many calories is that?
Bear in mind to always tailor what you can achieve as an individual. A person with osteoarthritis is not necessarily able to achieve the same as a younger person who has already been actively walking (but can still be of the same level of fitness!). Take into account various surrounding factors such as the weather, fluid requirements, other commitments, and personal goals. I think it would be superb to achieve this once a week or every two weeks.
5. What if I have mobility/heart conditions?
Walking is one of the most conservative forms of exercise that one can take up. It is low-impact on the joints, can easily be adapted for various conditions, and is easy to get a carer to participate in. Of course, remember to follow your physicians’ specific and individualized recommendations.