Chances are, you made some sort of resolution to get fit this year, and you may even have gotten a new Fitbit tracker or smart watch to stay focused on your goal. But if your plan was simply to try to walk every day, you’re probably starting to find yourself getting bored right about now.
Here’s the good news: You’ve already done the hard work of starting a habit. “Perhaps the most important thing you can do to establish an exercise habit is to structure your day in such a way that you make exercise a priority,” says Fitbit Ambassador and personal trainer Blake Raymond. “You might have to wake up 15 minutes or a half hour early so that you can get your walk in before work, or section out another time during the day, but you have to be consistent.”
Raymond challenges you to take your walk to the next level. “The cool thing about the body is that it’s built to be able to respond to healthy stress, and it responds by getting stronger,” Raymond says. “It sounds intimidating at first, but if you challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone, you’ll soon find yourself getting stronger and healthier.” Keep yourself motivated and excited by walking, and give yourself that added push, by trying these five ways Raymond motivates his clients to keep consistency and build on their progress as time goes on.
1. Try A “10 For 10 Challenge”
Commit to 10,000 steps a day for 10 days in a row. 10,000 steps can be daunting, Raymond acknowledges, but committing to that level of movement can also jumpstart more serious fitness endeavors. If 10,000 steps seems too difficult, try “8 for 8”—8,000 steps a day for eight days straight.
2. Do A “Power Up, Easy Down” Workout
Start by finding a hill in your neighborhood (stairs will work in a pinch if the weather outside is nasty). Walk around for at least five minutes to warm up, then sprint up the hill, going as fast as you can. Then, walk slowly back down. Walk at a normal pace for a minute (consider this your breather), and then repeat the sprint up the hill and walk down it. Keep going for 15 minutes, then cool down with an easy 10-minute walk.
3. Try A “Down And Back” Workout
Pick a landmark about a 15 minute walk from where you’re starting, like a corner store or the end of a road. Walk to your destination, noting how long it took to get there, and then head back home at a faster pace. “The goal is to go out easy and come back strong,” Raymond says. “You should try to make it back faster than you went out.”
4. Increase Your Speed With “Fartlek” Workouts
“Fartlek” means “speed play” in Swedish, and Fartlek workouts are simply ones in which you speed up for short intervals in the midst of a longer session. While walking pick a milestone, like the next tree or stoplight, and speed up for the 15 or 30 seconds it takes to get there. Then, continue walking slowly until you’re ready to go again. Beginners should try to walk slowly for 5 minutes, then do 15 minutes of Fartleks, then warm down for 10 minutes.
5. Get Your Friends Involved
When all else fails, lean on a friend. In early November, Raymond’s girlfriend Beka was commiserating about how difficult it was to stay in shape during the busy holiday season. He suggested that she try to get in 30 minutes of exercise every day for 30 days. She challenged a friend to join her, posted her intentions on Instagram, and suddenly, there were 15 or 20 friends who committed to the plan. “It sounds cheesy when I tell that story, and I didn’t realize that a silly conversation would be the catalyst for 20 people to commit to getting fit, but it was,” Raymond says. “Beka would come home from work and go for a 30-minute walk, take a class, or go to the gym. Another woman had just had a baby, so she was doing some basic mat exercises. It was great.”
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.