5 Strategies for a Successful Walking Program

Are you ready to start walking for fitness? Follow these fitness tips to help you be successful. Walking is good medicine for any age, especially folks with arthritis. Walking has been proven to help with weight loss, stress control, increasing strength, and balance, as well as reducing pain. To improve your chances of success, try these five walking strategies:

  1. Find a walking buddy. To maintain your program find someone to walk with. A walking buddy adds accountability and safety.
    • Make a walking date with your spouse. It could even be your four-legged best friend.
    • Join a walking group. (Walk with Ease program starts here at Kirby Pines in September).
    • Schedule your walks like you would a doctor’s appointment on your busy calendar.
  2. Add variety to your walk. Don’t let it become routine. Take a different route at a different time of day. Pay attention to the wildlife and flowers. Walk with music to keep in step.
  3. Get good shoes. The only equipment you really need for walking is the right pair of shoes. Look for deep and wide shoe forms made of cloth or smooth leather that are not so tight as to not rub your skin. A good quality running shoe is best. (You can walk in running shoes, but you can’t run in walking shoes). Select shoes without thick treads to prevent catching the bottom of your foot. Make sure shoes are proper width and roomy. Wear high-top athletic shoes for weak ankles. Flexible shoes help reduce stress on the knee while walking
  4. Keep a Record. Record your accomplishments in a journal or calendar. Keeping track of how far, long, when and where you walk can be a real motivator. Begin with an attainable goal like 10 minutes for 3 days each week, then add 5 minutes to each walk the next week, and change your goals as you meet them. A pedometer or walking app on your phone or ”Fitbit” can be a real motivator. Post your accomplishments where you can see them and remember to reward yourself when you meet your goals with a purchase or event. (Avoid using food as a reward)
  5. Throw out the excuses. The first excuse for not exercising is lack of time. If walking is made a priority, people can find the time. Other barriers like bad weather can be solved by walking the halls of Kirby or using the treadmill in the Oasis. If tiredness or achy joints are the problem, be determined to walk; just walk a shorter easier route. Even a 5-minute walk is better than no walk and may even give you energy to go longer. Have a backup plan, if you can’t walk on your usual schedule, make a plan B and reschedule. The more you walk, the more energy and strength you have and feel like walking.

Retired folks taking a stroll.Speaking of walking—Would you like to begin a walking program? If you can you walk at least ten minutes and desire to improve your overall health and well-being, the Arthritis Foundation Walk with Ease Program will teach you how to safely make physical activity part of your everyday life. Walk with Ease offers support, information and tools to help you succeed. We will look at improving our posture and our gait. Balance and endurance are emphasized as well as making friends and learning our way around the hallways. Classes will begin September 17th for nine weeks meeting twice each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Arts & Crafts room at 1:30 and led by Mary Hand who is a trained Arthritis Foundation walking leader. Each meeting begins with a short discussion covering a topic related to exercise or arthritis, followed by a 10- to 40-minute walk that includes a warm-up and cool-down, stretches, and take home exercises that will build strength for walking. We will begin walking inside and with good weather, walking outside will be an option. The program will include a very helpful guidebook, lots of surprises, good camaraderie and special encouragements along the way. For newcomers to Kirby Pines, it’s a great way to meet your neighbors and learn your way around. We are especially looking for people who want to begin an exercise program, as well as graduates of the program who are always welcomed back and encouraged to bring a friend. Contact Life Enhancement Department or sign up in the Oasis.