How to Make Your Walking Program More Challenging
Beginnings are great. When you begin something new, you feel excited, energized and ready to charge ahead. But then, after awhile, it's not new, the excitement has worn off, and you don't really feel energized.
You feel stuck. Like you're just going through the motions because you know you're supposed to. When you do something for awhile, you can become accustomed to it.
You can reach a point where you can do it on autopilot - never really engaging in what you're doing. As time passes, you can also reach a certain level, known as a plateau.
When you get to this point, this means that no more changes are currently taking place. It also means that any progress you were making has now come to a stop. You've reached a point where you're no longer gaining rewards.
You won't be going backward, you simply aren't moving forward. And that's something that you always want to do - keep moving forward. This is what happens regardless of how you're trying to move more.
It happens with hard exercise, easy exercise and it happens with walking. If you're not changing up your walking program to make it more challenging, you will (at some point) reach the place where you're in a plateau.
What causes frustration with reaching this point is that you're still doing what you're supposed to do. You're making sure you get in your steps, you're being faithful to take care of your health in other ways - and yet, it feels like you're spinning your wheels.
In the beginning of a walking program, there's a payoff. You start feeling better. As you move more, you're gaining some health benefits. Your blood pressure is great.
You've gained some flexibility in your joints, some strength in your muscles. You feel more alive. You've noticed that you're losing some weight. Toning up. Your clothes fit better or you even have to buy smaller sizes.
You might feel an upswing in your moods because of walking. You enjoy breathing in the fresh air. These are all part of your reward with walking. Everyone loves a reward-based system.
You do your part and you get something in return. Then the day comes when you're doing your part and you're getting nothing in return. There's no reward. Just another day of walking.
What happened is that your reward got swallowed up in familiarity. Remember that familiarity is the forerunner of a plateau. Don't let your walking program become so familiar to you that you can do it on autopilot.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to see results with your walking program - with wanting to feel that sense of accomplishment or reward. Making your walking program more challenging can be a great way to avoid boredom, too.
In fact, you should review your walking goals regularly - and while you're reviewing them, you should make changes to your routine at the same time. For beginning walkers, reaching a plateau isn't something that will happen right away.
But, if you're not a beginner walker and you're ready to move up a level, then you can take steps to make your walking program more challenging. By raising the stakes, you'll get more from your program and it will be better suited to the fitness level that you've achieved.
You can start by walking briskly like you normally would - but don't keep up that pace the entire distance of your walk. Instead, keep up the brisk walk for just 5 minutes.
Then after the five minutes, walk slower for a couple of minutes. After the couple of minutes passes, go back to the 5 minutes of brisk walking until you've completed the length of time that you've become used to walking.
What this type of interval walking does is to get your heart rate elevated. It also helps you shake your body out of its routine by making it work harder in a shorter amount of time.
If you've been walking on flat surfaces, you can add a hill or incline to your journey. This elevates the amount of effort that's required from your body. But you only want to do this if you have shoes with good shock absorption.
You can challenge yourself by changing the distance that you've normally been covering. Sometimes, this can quickly shake your body out of a plateau. What you can do is instead of walking your usual 5 miles is you can push on until you go an extra mile.
But you can also do the opposite and walk a mile less than your usual 5. This throws your body out of its rut and it's a good way to shake up the routine. Remember that in order to break a plateau, all that's required is change.
You can pick a walking route that's more challenging for you to accomplish in the same amount of time. This is a change that will also work on a treadmill. All you have to do is make the incline more difficult.
Alternate your walking pace in briskness, stride and continuity. You can walk for a few minutes, then stop and do a push up or a step up. This change will help you make your walking program more challenging because your body is forced to adapt.
You can also make a walking program more challenging by pushing your pace to make sure you cover your miles in less time each time you do it. For example, if you're covering a mile in 15 minutes, push yourself to cover that same mile in 12-13 minutes.
You can challenge yourself against your own record or with a walking partner. If you use a music device while you're walking, you can make it more challenging by keeping up a brisker pace for the length of more fast paced songs than you did in the past.
Or you can switch your current playlist for an extended playlist to get more walking steps in for the day. By making your walking program more challenging as you go along, you'll avoid plateaus and the motivation to keep on going will stick with you.
Walking is a fitness activity that can be completely tailored to your preferences and needs. You can spend as much or as little on gadgets and equipment as you want. Plus, there will always be ways you can break out of a plateau with ease.
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