DO NOT underestimate the power of this activity. It may seem like it doesn’t matter much, something you have to do each day, or “not enough” work for you, but DO NOT underestimate how powerful walking can be for an overall active and healthy lifestyle.
Aim to get at least 10,000 steps in per day. At this level people tend to be more active overall and live a healthier lifestyle. Walking is a great way to get your body moving, help digestion, elimination, and strengthen your heart and circulatory system.
Find walking boring? Download your favorite podcasts or playlist. Try this workout and walk right in your living room! Enjoy.
When are you feeling most energetic and most active? It can be hard enough to fit exercise in, not to mention trying to fit exercise in when you are tired and feeling worn out.
Some of naturally gravitate toward early morning – others toward evenings. Some of us like to be in bed early others could stay up all night. Which are you? Try out different workout times and see which ones fit best into your life.
Then start to plan your workouts around those times. Keep in mind performing an intense exercise session too close to bedtime can keep you energized and up longer than you’d like. Make sure you give yourself about 2 hours to settle down after a hard workout if you are doing your exercise close to your slumber time.
Working out alone has its benefits and its struggles. Many people prefer working out with a tribe.
Find your tribe by considering what type(s) of workouts do you like to do? What time of day? Where – inside, outside, a class, a small group? Then begin participating in the activities you like where others who like the same activity are.
At first it may feel awkward and weird – remember you might the new person in class, however stick with it and give relationships a little time to develop. It’s also important to put yourself out there at times.
If you are hanging in the corner making it impossible for others to get to know you, guess what – they won’t. Make sure you smile, make eye contact, and say hello on a regular basis. Making friends takes time and hopefully your time for socializing is limited by the time and effort you put in sweating.
Here’s a little help in case making new friends is the tough part.
People often underestimate what it will take to be successful in a goal. Many times they have chosen a large goal and then fail to break it into smaller pieces. For example I once had a woman tell me she needed to lose 50lbs in 3 weeks for a wedding and she “was ready to work hard to get this done”. Wonderful goal for this woman. It would allow her to move better in her daily life, play with her children and grandchildren, and have more quality of life in health, however 50lbs in 3 weeks is not healthy weight loss. It didn’t take 3 weeks to put that extra weight on, and it wasn’t going to take just 3 weeks to lose it. Healthy and sustainable weight loss happens around 1-2lbs per week. I worked with this woman to do the math and choose a more realistic weight loss plan for her wedding.
Next we had to break the goal into steps. When planning for a long term goal it is important to break the goal into smaller more doable chunks. This allows our inspiration, motivation, and behavior to have a focus point we see as achievable. The human mind isn’t so good at following through on long term goals when it gets mundane and things aren’t changing quickly. We humans are programmed to go with what feels good in this moment and what’s easiest, as we like to conserve energy.
Here’s the formula for creating a good goal structure. It’s called SMART goals.
S = specific, if I say I want to be more healthy, what does that really mean? Eating better? Working out? Sleeping more? Healthy relationships? Without a clear vision of what that means it is hard to figure out what behaviors I have to change. Start with your big goal and narrow it down again and again until you have a very specific vision.
M = measurable, again say I want to more healthy, how will I know when I get there? Let’s say I decided it was being at a healthy weight for my body and a healthy body fat percentage. These are two numbers I can measure. I can take a pre and post measurement to find out where I am in the process at anytime. Make your goal measurable.
A = attainable, if I want to be at a healthy weight but choose a number well below my genetics I am setting myself up for misery. I may make the number with hard work but to maintain it I will be stuck in a pattern of behaviors that may be too restrictive. There are many places to consult about your goals. Check reputable sources online, hire a expert in the area of interest, read a book, magazine, or blog related to your goals. You have lots of options for knowledge.
R = realistic, similar to attainable however in this one your willingness to put the effort in matters. It may be attainable for you to lost 50lbs however the length of time (approx 1 year) and level of needed attention to the goal may not be what you want to put your efforts into. When you pick your goal making it realistic is important to your success. You can hold the 50lb, year long goal as the larger goal, but make the one you are working on more about the next month or two. Do the math and break your larger goals into smaller chunks.
Finally, make your goal:
T= time sensitive. This is another important piece to holding inspiration and motivation. Again, when a goal feels so far away it’s hard to stay motivated and continue to find daily inspiration to keep us on track. It’s important to make your goal relate to time. For example: 50lbs may be your larger goal, but you get rewarded every week, when you’ve lost one.
The whole process of SMART goals is important to success, make sure to spend some time today focusing on defining and/or refining your goals.
When beginning a workout it is important to begin with a warm up and end with a cool down. In both cases the gentle movements allow the body to begin preparing the systems (musculature, circulatory, and neuro-muscular junctions) to work together. As the systems begin working together your muscles “warm up”. The blood begins flowing to smaller areas and the tissues become more playable.
Begin by performing some of the same movement patterns you are planning in your workout without the overload of weight or speed. This helps your brain get ready for the more complicated work of compensating for overload. Once the workout is over it is important to let your body “cool down”. This means you are allowing those worked muscles to slow down, blood flow to gradually decrease, and the tissues to settle.
Check out this cool down and stretching routine. I really like this website and the workouts these two create. It’s a great resource for those of us working out at home.
When when we stop moving abruptly the blood can pool in our larger muscle groups and make us feel dizzy, in addition, performing flexibility training after a workout is important because the muscles are “warm” and the stretch reflectors and proprioceptors are able to more easily stretch. They still need a gentleness to perform at their best, but it will be much easier with less potential for injury if your muscles have good blood flow. The job of these proprioceptors is to make sure you do not harm your tissues.
Try foam rollers to help you obtain a deeper stretch when you are ready for your flexibility training.
When getting ready to cool down, begin moving in similar movement patterns to your workout but slower speeds and less to no overload. To complete your workout plan to spend 10-15 minutes stretching all muscles of the body a few times each (compound movement stretches save time and are great here). Allow your breathing to become deep to take benefit from your increased endorphin flow and set an intention for what’s left of your day.
For many, working out is as easy as walking out our backdoor. Here’s a walking workout you can do during your next walk around the block, up the mountain, or around the park. Just find your favorite trail and GO.
Interested in packing your own exercise bands for an even easier way to workout while you hike? – check out Thera Bands – they are easy to pack. I have a set with handles I’ll bring when I know I can use trees or want the ease of a handle and I have a set without handles I’ve cut to the length I want and can tie/wrap around anything. I tie these around my waist during a run for less to carry.
In addition to hiking a great trail for cardiovascular exercise, you can add strength training to your routine with a few simple movements. First focus on your lower body. As you move forward make your step wider. Lower your back knee towards the ground (be careful not to hit your knee on the ground – this hurts) and be sure to maintain alignment with your front foot out over your front ankle. This helps make sure you do not have too much force on the knee joint as you overload the body. Do 20 alternating lunges then continue your walk as normal.
After 2 minutes stop and do 10 push-ups. You can choose a rock or tree branch to elevate upper or lower body or just remain as level as you can, choosing to complete full body push ups on your toes or perform the movement from your knees.
Return to the hike. 2 minutes later, stop and begin to squat. Pretend you are sitting in a porta potty at the end of a long music festival. If you’ve never experienced this – you don’t want to touch anything with any part of your body. With your feet firmly on the ground, sit back and hover as though you didn’t want to touch anything and you don’t want to soil yourself either, but pretend you really have to go to the bathroom, so you’re going to have to figure this out. Pull your belly button towards your spine and length through your lower back. Again make sure your knees are not pushing out over your toes and focus on a nice diagonal line from the top of your head through your tailbone. Try to keep from resting your belly on your thighs. Again resume walking.
Next, it’s time for back work. You can choose a tree branch at a good height and grip circumference for you to do pull ups or find a rock you can grip to do rows. When doing rows I like to alternate between high and low rows to target the entire back. Take a lunge stance, support yourself with a hand on your thigh, and place the rock in the opposite (to front foot) hand. Using the rock as weight begin to pull your elbow up close to the body until it is behind you. Squeeze your scapula toward your spine and focus on the small muscles between them and along your spine. Next movement is the high row. This time move your arm straight out from your shoulder – same lower body position. Bend the elbow at 90 degrees and pull up, again focusing on the small muscles between the scapula and spine. Do 10 of each on each arm and return to walking. There are a few options in the video below that target your back. Get creative and see what you can add into your hike based on your environment.
At this point your could choose to be done or add in an “Arnold”. This move is a combination move targeting the biceps and deltoids. Begin with rocks in both hands. Make sure they are heavy enough to provide overload for you in both the shoulder press and a bicep curl but not too heavy that you can’t complete both with good form. Start with your hands down by your sides arms fully extended. Curl the hands toward the shoulders and then continue the movement by lifting the hands above the head.
To complete my arms, I like to add in a tricep move at the top of my arnold. If you feel comfortable with your weights in each hand go for it. If not do this as a separate move after 2 more minutes of hiking. Squeeze your elbows to your ears and drop the rock behind your head (be careful not to hit yourself in the head as this really hurts when you misjudge placement). Extend the arms back above the head, lower hands to the shoulders and extend the arms once again returning to the starting position. Complete 10 and then return to walking.
Now you can choose to add a few plank holds, back extensions, and quadruped curls (on all fours, wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, lift one leg and the opposite arm, curl the knee and elbow together and hold for a 3 second count.
Return to the starting point and repeat on the other side). Again return to walking.
Congratulations!! You have done a full body strength training session and created a walking workout on your favorite trail! Now you have the choice to continue walking without interruption or complete another set or two. Your choice will depend on the difficulty of your trail, your allotted time, and your current fitness level. Here’s to making every workout count!
As with all things … things will be changing soon. Take some time to consider these questions. Although your answers are really just for you, it does help when you actively write things down.
When you write you take an abstract thought and make it concrete on the paper. It’s easier to stick with concrete ideas as you continue to change your behaviors. When you consider what you’ve learned through the last month, where do you see yourself going next? How do you want to continue to work toward and reach your goals? What did you try that didn’t work, that you might want to adjust? What worked great? What surprises did you have?
Here’s 7 sentences to help you notice your accomplishments, create motivation, find your focus, and set your next successful goal. Write a statement to your current self from your future self:
This last year has been_______. I am so grateful I accomplished ______. I am most proud of ______ and thankful to myself for _______. These last 5 years have been ______. I am so thankful to have accomplished_______. I am most proud of ______ and grateful to myself for _________. I am so happy I am planning to accomplish _______ next.
Answer them as honestly as you can. Answer as if you really have reached your goals, are the person you hope to become, and as though you’re ready to set your next goal for your future. Do not concern yourself with the how you are going to get these items done or financial burdens of completing them right now.
Need focus to Live with Intent? Try an online class to help you focus yourself and make your goals happen.
As you continue to focus on your goals you will find the opportunities you need to make them happen. Remember, what you put your attention to is what you will find. Want something different in your life … You better be focusing on what you want rather than what you don’t want. Need some motivation? Check out this video and let the words sink in … you can do what you put your mind to.
I have done these exercises for years. I like to distill my thoughts into bullet points I file away. Every so often I take them out and am amazed at how much I accomplished on the list, yet had forgotten I’d put on the list in the first place. Now it’s your turn – see what you can make happen next!
Here’s where inspiration and motivation become key. The first few weeks of a workout are great. You are excited, you are feeling the changes of more energy, sleeping better, focusing on good food which increases your sense of balance, groundedness, and energy … and then things don’t seem as rosy. You’ve hit the mundane and boring part of reaching a goal.
The time when the excitement of having it is no longer more than the work and focus it takes to get it accomplished. In this time it is critical to have inspiration to drive your motivation. This is where you have to really keep your focus going and where having a routine that you stick too (even when it’s boring or seems like it won’t matter if you sleep in or eat this instead) becomes critical for getting you over the hump.
Placed together with cycling your workouts and beating plateaus this extra effort sticking to your routine will take you a long, long way.
Working out doesn’t have to happen at a special time or in the gym. It can happen in the midst of daily chores! Again, another way to add fitness in without adding more to your to-do list. Some simple things can help you focus more on the movement and exercise rather than chores being categorized as daily living activities.
First, to be exercise we’ve got to have some overload. That could be as simple as making sure you carry in more groceries at one time or more complicated like scrubbing the kitchen floor on your hands and knees while making sure to reach one arm and the opposite leg out for more intense core work.
Second, the key is to get creative and follow proper lifting techniques so you don’t hurt yourself while vacuuming. The injury could be the same, but the story won’t be as cool if you have to say you were cleaning house rather than performing your biggest lift to date!
A little playfulness goes a long way to figuring out how many steps you can take, how to get more overload (maybe ankle weights or a weighted vest. Also helps to use longer levers – stretch your arm all the way out to lift the gallon of milk). I have found that the challenge of getting a step, calorie, or muscle strength goal makes cleaning MUCH more fun. See how playful you can get with the idea over the next week and see if you have more fun completing repetitive chores, too.
Cycling your workouts helps on two fronts. First it helps you get over plateaus (which we’ll discuss in a few days) and second it allows you to make sure you don’t get too efficient in your workouts. An easy way to look at cycling workouts is to start with your time frame – say you have 3 months to complete your goal. This is 12 weeks. You can begin with a conditioning phase for 3 weeks, move to a strength phase for 3 weeks, a speed/strength (aka plyometric phase) for 3 weeks, and finally a combination phase for 3 weeks. Or you could do an easy phase for 3 weeks (here think building your endurance and conditioning for the work to come), a medium phase for 3 weeks (more strength, harder movement patterns, maybe some speed), and a difficult phase for 3 weeks (hypertrophy focus or speed, agility, sports specific conditioning, etc). This gets followed by a week of active rest and then you can move back to a medium phase of easy phase if you are learning new movement patterns.
The choice of program is only the frame. The basic components need to be introduction to the work and building endurance, followed by overload – this could be building muscle, longer cardio work, or speed drills. The body is made to adapt and thus becomes good at finding the easiest way to accomplish a task.
By cycling your workouts you can easily help yourself continue to progress in your goals without the frustration of hitting a plateau you didn’t expect.