6/8/2022 | By Megan Mullen

Among Seniors Guide’s five walking tips, you’re sure to find a walking tip that motivates you! Are you motivated by the benefits, by establishing a routine, achieving goals, or taking part in exercise with companions by your side?

Walking can be a pleasurable pursuit for those who make the time and commitment. Besides enjoyment, walking offers a host of other benefits. The easy exercise keeps our bodies and minds functioning at their best. It relieves stress by refocusing our concentration. And it encourages companionship and a positive outlook.

Which walking tip will keep you going?

Maintaining an effective walking routine requires perseverance, structure, and goal setting. But don’t worry – the work you put in will produce a bounty of benefits. These walking tips can keep you moving forward.

Walking tip #1: Focus on the benefits of walking

When you don’t feel like exchanging your slippers for some comfy walking shoes, remind yourself of the many benefits of walking. Knowing the payoff can provide extra motivation.

As we age, it’s easy to grow complacent about physical activity. After all, there are many more aches and pains than there once were. However, they and your overall health could worsen if you neglect exercise – and many aches and pains can be mitigated by exercise.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the Arthritis Foundation, and other authorities, a structured, regular walking routine offers benefits from short-term energy boosts to slowing the progress of chronic and often deadly diseases. Walking can help you:

man walking in forest. photo by Noriko Cooper, Dreamstime. Find a walking tip that motivates you: reflecting on the benefits, establishing a routine, achieving goals, exercise with companions and more.
  • Prevent or manage health conditions like heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Maintain your optimal weight and shed excess body fat.
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness.
  • Curtail the loss of bone mass and strengthen muscles.
  • Increase energy levels.
  • Improve cognition, memory, and sleep.
  • Develop better balance and coordination.
  • Improve your overall health through increased oxygen intake.
  • Reduce stress and tension.
  • Slow the rate of age-related mental decline.
  • Feel good enough about yourself to pass the positive feelings onto others.

As if those health benefits aren’t enough, being outdoors increases vitamin D levels, improves your mood, both from light exposure and forest bathing, improves concentration, and promotes healing. How’s that for a walking tip?

Related: Natural mood boosters

5 outdoor activities to boost health

Walking tip #2: Establish a routine

Possibly the most important walking tip is to establish a routine – one that works for you. Not only are routines better for our lives overall, incorporating a behavior such as walking into your routine makes it a habit – a healthy habit.

Kristi DePaul in Harvard Business Review suggests these steps:

  • Pick the behavior you want to turn into a habit.
  • Be realistic, patient, committed, and self-disciplined.
  • Identify your motivation.
  • Prepare for roadblocks.
  • Establish the behavior in your schedule.
  • Take small steps.
  • Try “temptation bundling” – package the behavior you’re trying to establish with one you already enjoy. To start a walking program, you could get a new pair of headphones and listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music. (Consider bone conduction headphones like those from Shokz – not only are they comfortable, even during movement, but they allow you to better hear external noises – like approaching cars – to improve your safety.)

Walking tip #3: Choose your optimal walking time

Recent studies have looked at the best parts of the day to derive maximum benefit from an aerobically beneficial walk. However, with different times of the day having their unique assets and uncertainty among researchers, it can be hard to determine which would be best for you.

Bodily mechanisms known as “cellular clocks” create numerous internal rhythms that influence our bodies’ temperatures, hormone levels, blood sugar, blood pressure, muscular strength, etc. to dip and crest.

For example, in early 2021, the Irish Times reported on a study of men at high risk for Type 2 diabetes. It compared men who consistently worked out between 8 and 10 a.m. with others who routinely exercise between 3 and 6 p.m. and found afternoon exercise to be more efficacious at improving blood glucose levels.

Other studies indicate the importance of a post-meal walk. Diabetes Journals reported that three 15-minute bouts of moderate post-meal walking significantly improves 24-hour glycemic control in older people at risk for impaired glucose tolerance.

Other guidance points to the benefits of morning exercise, which sets you on a healthy trajectory for the day ahead and encourages sound sleep at night.

Related: Tips for starting a walking program

No matter what time of day you choose, any exercise is far better than none at all. So, whether walking in the early morning invigorates you, an afternoon walk gets you through the day, or after-meal walks hit your sweet spot, do it regularly to achieve your desired fitness goals. The best routine is whatever you can keep doing long term.

Walking tip #4: Set achievable goals

Informal exercise like walking to the mailbox or shelving clean dishes keeps you moving and accomplishes necessary tasks, but aerobic walking routines provide additional benefits by increasing your heart rate.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week (e.g., walking at a gentler pace) and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week (e.g., walking briskly). You might also choose to blend moderate and vigorous activity. Start small, so you don’t feel overwhelmed and give up entirely.

You will also reap more health benefits by combining aerobic activity with strength training. Try to do at least 30 minutes of overall physical activity every day. If you can’t manage that amount of time all at once, consider multiple short sessions throughout the day.

Treat yourself to a fitness tracker, such as a Garmin watch, Apple watch, or Fitbit. You’ll be better able to track your goals, celebrate your successes, and even make your progress social and entertaining.

Walking tip #5: Enlist walking companions

couple walking. Photo by Dana Bartekoske Heinemann Dreamstime. Find a walking tip that motivates you: reflecting on the benefits, establishing a routine, achieving goals, exercise with companions and more.

Walking companions – one or more friends, a spouse or partner, an organized walking group, or your faithful canine(s) – can provide accountability, encourage you to maintain a healthy pace and a regular schedule. In fact, an energetic dog will set that pace for you!

Companionship, in general, plays a role by boosting your spirits and, therefore, your energy. So, unless you’re seeking solitude, inner peace, or tranquility, walking can be an excellent time to chat with friends and loved ones without the usual distractions.

In fact, you can join a group (EverWalk, for example) to find a new walking buddy. You might enjoy the exercise more than you already do, and have a new friend. That can generate more motivation for both of you!

Megan Mullen

Megan Mullen is a freelance writer, librarian, and former college professor. Senior life is one of her niches (and a personal interest). Megan enjoys using her writing and research skills to create well-crafted web content and other publications.