We Can't, Didn't, Shouldn'tBut Promise to Start Tomorrow
By Rebecca Johnson
Read on for the walking version of "My dog ate it" as we shoot down
your most common excuses for not walking, with help from Mark Fenton,
author of Walking Magazine's Complete Guide to Walking for
Health and Fitness.
1. I haven't walked or exercised regularly since junior high school!
Well, it's about time you did, isn't it? You're one of millionsthe
one-third of all Americans who are putting their lives in serious
danger because they live sedentary lifestyles. "Overweight and physical
inactivity account for more than 300,000 premature deaths each year
in the U.S., second only to tobacco-related deaths," warns Jeffrey
P. Kaplan, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The good news? Like quitting smoking, it's relatively easy to overcome
these risks. A recent study by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research
in Dallas, Texas found that even small lifestyle changes- such as
walking around a soccer field during a child's game, or walking around
the airport during a layover- significantly improve cardiorespiratory
fitness and blood pressure. "The beauty is that these changes are
simple to do and they add up to an important health difference," noted
Andrea Dunn, project director of the study.
Chances are the shape you were in back in junior high or high school
when you were more active- is a lot better than the shape you're in
now. Even if you hated gym class, there are plenty of other physical
activities you can take up that are fun and also beneficial. Walking
is one of the easiest to do because it allows you to accomplish several
things at once. Incorporate walking in your daily schedule to get
to work, walk your kids to school, to do errands, or to visit a friend.
2. I get bored by walking.
So make it interesting! There are plenty of ways to inject fun into
walking and keep yourself motivated.
Walking doesn't have to be a solitary event (although some people
do prefer the peace and quiet of a solo walk.) You can turn walking
into a social happening by making walking dates with friends, or even
by combining walking with another fun occasion: walking to the movies
or a concert or sports event, for example.
You might also want to join a local walking club or team full of other
companion walkers to help keep you motivated to walk. Check with your
city's parks and recreation department, hospital, or even the sporting
goods store where you purchased your walking shoes. Or click here
to search for a club in your area.
Vary your routine. Walk at different times of day. Walk with different
friends and neighbors. Walk your dog, or a friend's dog. Explore new
walking routes. If you always walk on a trail, try heading downtown
or pick out an interesting neighborhood to see new sights as you stroll
by. Take headphones and listen to music or a book-on-tape.
Plan a special long walk- a hike or visit to the beach. If you're
really ambitious, you might want to plan and train for an extended
walking journey: a walking tour of a foreign country or city, a religious
pilgrimage, hiking the Appalachian Trail or a national park.
Train for a specific
I don't have time to walk.
What you're really saying is "I haven't made time to walk, because
walking is not a priority for me." We can give you countless reasons
to walk, but no one else can MAKE you walk. It's up to you to make
walking a priority.
Think about it this way: Do you place a high priority on yourself
and your well-being? It never hurts to remind yourself of the health
benefits you gain by walking regularly (link to health benefits pop
up window on general health pg). Although you may not notice these
long-term benefits right away, you will notice this: You'll have more
energy. You'll sleep better. You'll be fitter. And you'll be happier.
If all of those things are important to you, then walking should be,
Even on the days you really can't seem to set aside a half hour for
a walk, you CAN walk. Find shorter segments of time where walking
naturally fits into your schedule. If you're used to driving everywhere,
this may take a little rethinking. But just sit down, take a quick
look at your calendar, and check off the places where you could walk
instead of driving. If you have a short errand to do, a meeting to
attend, or a child to pick up, walk. If you're headed to see a movie,
to worship, to a game, walk. Although it may take a few minutes longer
than normal, remind yourself of your efficient use of time: you're
actually accomplishing several things at once.
Still racking your brain for a way to make time?
4. Walking is painful for me.
If you are out of shape or recovering from an injury or illness, walking
might hurtat first. But if you don't try walking for short durations
and building up slowly, then it's not going to stop hurting.
When you think about it, the damage you're doing to your body by not
staying active will hurt you far more in the long run than the discomfort
you're experiencing now. If you don't walk or engage in intensive
physical activity on a regular basis, you're making yourself a top
candidatefor cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, obesity,
diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even some forms
Walking is one of the easiest physical activities to do. And it will
get even easier, if you stick to it. Start by walking ten minutes
a day and build up slowly as you get more comfortable. Never add more
than 10-20% more time or distance to your walk in a week's time, but
do keep a walking diary
to help motivate you to add more time and ground to your daily walk.
You should always check with your personal physician before beginning
any new exercise program.
I weigh too much to walk.
A moderate five or eight minute walk won't hurt anyone, promises Mark
Fenton. And if you're very heavy, your progress will be much quicker
than that of a thin person's. Again, start with shorter durations
and build slowly. You can measure exactly how many calories you're
burning with this personalized
I don't even know where to start.
Perhaps starting alone is your problem. Try walking with a
friend, relative, spouse, or neighbor.
It's too hot/cold/rainy/icy/snowy out.
Andrea Dunn of the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research
in Dallas, Texas offers this ingenious starting point
If humans have survived Ice Ages, it won't kill you to walk in the
rain. Great rain gear is available; take advantage of it.
In our age of climate control and central air, we've been conditioned
to expect our environment to remain comfortable at all times. But,
come on, how adventurous is that?
If you live in an area that experiences extreme heat or cold, simply
acclimate your walking routine to each season. In hot or humid areas,
start your stroll early, or walk at dusk. In cold areas, walk during
the middle of the dayon your lunch break, or in the afternoon.
My dog ate my walking shoes.
Well, we suppose it could happen. Hopefully you'll treat your pooch
to something a little tastier like, say, a milk bone. And the next
time you're out walking, invite him or her along for the stroll...
real reason people don't walk is
the one most rarely uttered. Plain and simple: "Because I don't want
to." The trick is to find a way to incorporate walking into your daily
life so seamlessly that it becomes like eating and showering and sleeping.
Walking serves many great purposes that we too often forget. But think
of walking as a basic human need, a form of transportation, a beneficial
way to exercise and improve your health and fitness, and a fun and
refreshing way to relax.