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Beginning a Walking Program in 2012

The new year can be the time to break through your inertia, reset your priorities and get walking.

Are you tired of hearing the same ole, same ole…the "experts" telling you what to do? This time of year it's easy to find someone waxing on about what kind of New Year's resolutions to set and how to achieve them. But really, don't you know yourself better than anyone else does? So how about treating yourself as the expert for a change - and listen to your own voice.

You don't need to have anyone lecture you that adding a walking routine to your schedule will help you feel better, physically and emotionally, in 2012. You already have that awareness - but is that enough to get you out the door? You could remind yourself that research has shown walking helps in weight control as well as in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Or that it works to increase your brain flexibility and decrease memory loss. Or even that brisk walking can provide a cushion against symptoms of depression.

But you know all of that. You understand that walking is the most uncomplicated exercise, the easiest to implement and one that is so flexible that you can tailor it around your own schedule. You can begin at any age or level and increase the speed and length during the year. And you can add in the benefits of social companionship or an appreciation of nature if you like.

So what's holding you back? Take some time for honest self-reflection about your New Year's resolutions. Until you recognize what's causing the obstacles, you can't begin to map out a plan to implement your walking program. Here are some things to consider: 

Did you set realistic expectations with goals you can accomplish? If not, you may need to scrap your original list and come up with less grandiose aspirations. If your original plan of 30 minutes of brisk walking each day seems like too much for now, plan to break it up into two or even three segments. Don't beat yourself up for falling short of promises you made that were out of reach. Who hasn't made mistakes? Take it one day at a time as you revise and come up with a Plan B that works for you.

Have you actually committed to a walking plan? Your family and friends can provide a sounding board as well as the motivation to begin and stay with your stated objectives. Putting your goals in black and white gives them credibility and helps you take yourself more seriously. Decide on an activity that you enjoy and will stick with - walking outside with friends, using a treadmill at the gym or enjoying the quiet of a walk on your own.

How can you break through your inertia and get started? It's always easier to keep doing the same things than to make a U-turn. You'll need to draw on your strengths, resources and what worked for you before. Use these as you face the challenges of creating a new walking regimen. You can set up reinforcements to give you that extra push out the door. Once you've gotten used to your new pattern, it will be easier to continue.

What about resetting your priorities? You can reactivate your sense of control by looking hard at your list of priorities and making changes in them. Do you really need to spend that extra time during lunch break surfing the net or play video games after dinner? Instead create new opportunities for yourself - use that time to begin your walks, short as they may be at first.

There may be limits to what you can accomplish in your 2012 New Year's resolutions, but know you can go one step at a time. Make a commitment to cut through the inertia, set a realistic goal - without expecting perfection in your results - and make it a priority to get out that door.

© 2012, Her Mentor Center

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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