We've just finished our February Walking Challenge, where we aimed to walk every day in February. We walked with or without the pram, long walks, short walks, walks in the hot sun, and a few people even walked in the rain.
Going out for a walk might seem easy, but somehow life gets in the way and the walks don't happen. Here are some things that we learned from our Walking Challenge, and tips that you can use to get out there and get active more often.
1. Plan your walks
At the start of each day, or the day before if you're super organised, plan when you're going to walk. It's not enough to think 'I'm going to go for a walk tomorrow', it's better to plan a time 'I'm going to go for a walk tomorrow after lunch'.
2. Check the weather forecast
The forecast on your phone is surprisingly accurate. If you check the hour by hour weather forecast the night before you can plan your walk accordingly. Eliminating the problem of not going for a walk in the morning, only for the afternoon to be raining and miserable.
3. Have the gear
It's helpful to keep a raincover, suncover, and little blanket in the basket of your stroller, that way your child will be comfortable no matter the weather. My daughter is paranoid about getting sunburnt (she never has been, I've just passed my paranoia to her) she'll often ask for a blanket to go over her legs to keep the sun off. Having that blanket on hand keeps everyone happy.
4. Walk with a friend
This is especially good if your babies are young and happy to sit in the pram for a long time, or if your children are the same age and on a similar routine. One thing I love to do is meet a friend and park our cars a couple of km's from a cafe, then walk to the cafe, have a coffee, and walk back to the cars.
5. Don't worry about how long you're going for
Yes, it's great to walk for an hour, but that isn't going to happen every day. It's still worth going if you only walk 10 or 15 minutes. All those steps add up, and going for short walks helps you to build the exercise habit.
6. Incorporate walking in your day
Are there any short car trips that you do that you could replace with a walk with the stroller? For us, the three minute drive to daycare is about a 10 minute walk each way, easy enough to do once or twice a week. I always feel slightly conspicuous walking with an empty push-chair, but I've found that if I switch the seat to parent facing the people walking towards me don't comment.
7. Take snacks and drinks
Especially for toddlers, snacks can help to keep them entertained. Raisins are a great snack because although they go everywhere, they're easy to clean up. Children think it's really cool when you attach the drink holder at their level and put their drink bottle in there. It keeps them both hydrated and entertained.
8. Walk the child to sleep
Plan your walks around your child's sleeps. If they usually sleep at 3pm you could head out the door at 2.45. They get the lovely rocking sensation that helps them nod off, and you get your steps!
9. Get to know your local area
Don't feel like you have to drive to a cool area, or a walkway, to go walking. There are probably interesting things to look at right outside your door. One thing that members of our Walking Challenge liked to do was actively try to walk down streets that they don't usually drive down. Often a nice residential street will run parallel to the busy road you usually drive down, if you're on foot, why not enjoy that quiet street?
10. Check out the houses for sale in your area
This tip comes from Anna, who has just moved to a new neighbourhood, and I love this idea! 'I check out the map search on TradeMe for properties for sale in my new neighbourhood, and I also look at Homes.co.nz for local properties that have recently sold for megabucks, then I plan my walk-by. It helps me to feel like we didn't pay too much for our house!'
We hope that our tips help you to get out there and get active, walking is such a great easy way to exercise! We think that if you make walking a habit, prepare your gear, and plan your day, your on the right track to get those steps.