The NHS website confirms what we already know: walking briskly can help build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier. Most of us stroll around a bit every day – just not nearly enough. But take on board these helpful pointers and hitting your 22/7 will become a walk in the park.
Take Your Meetings Outside
We first heard about ‘walking meetings’ when Nilofer Merchant dedicated an entire Ted Talk to them. She said: “We don't even question how much we’re doing it [sitting], and because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s not okay. In that way, sitting has become the smoking of our generation.” She was first introduced to the concept when asked to meet her colleague not in the conference room but on a dog walk – the only time in the day they were free to catch up. She was immediately hooked. “Instead of going to coffee meetings or fluorescent-lit conference-room meetings, I ask people to go on a walking meeting – to the tune of 20 to 30 miles a week. It’s changed my life. I used to think about it as, you could take care of your health, or you could take care of obligations, and one always came at the cost of the other.”
Turn To Tech For Help
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but strolling at a leisurely pace won’t cut it. You don’t have to power walk, but it will need to be brisk to count towards your daily 22. According to the NHS, “A brisk walk is about three miles an hour, which is faster than a stroll. You can tell you’re walking briskly if you can still talk but cannot sing the words to a song.” Clever app Active 10 doesn’t just track your progress but tells you when to increase your pace to maximise the benefits of your walk. Just in case trying to break into song as you walk isn’t an option.
For a 360 view of your activity that includes not just steps but sleep, food and weight too, you might like to try a wearable tracker, rather than an app. The best out there? Fitbit of course. The newest addition to the Fitbit family is the Versa 2 Special Edition, a smart watch that connects to Alexa too, so you can control not just your steps but your home devices too.
Finesse Your Form
It’s not just about how fast you walk, but how you’re doing it too. Joanna Hall, ITV’s resident fitness expert and founder of walking system WalkActive, advises: “Firstly, pace is irrelevant if you don’t have good technique – the vast majority of us don’t walk as effectively as we could. If you wanted to improve your tennis serve, yoga poses or golf drive, you’d go to a trainer for advice on improving your technique. But we never think about our walking – the foundation of all our movements, the activity we are most likely to do throughout our whole lives.
“When walking with the correct form it should feel smooth, fluid and as if the body is gliding in a constant flowing momentum. When your form isn’t right, there will be tell-tale signs like niggling knees or hips and lower back pain – especially if you start to walk faster. Also, walking with your feet pointing out or misaligned – this indicates the tracking from your foot, knee and hip is incorrect, so you’re missing out on effective use of your glutes for tone, pace and consequent fitness.”
Have Your Catch-Up To Go
Meeting friends for a coffee or breakfast is all about the catch-up, and almost never about the venue. Much like Merchant’s walking meetings, why not take your coffees to go? Plan a great walk in a nearby park, or along a canal or river instead. If your socialising happens over lunch, why not use it as an excuse to try new lunch spots further from the office?
Power Walk Your Commute
Most of us have at least one evening each week with no after-work social plans. On those days, change into your trainers and walk home from work. Charge your phone before you go and use that time to catch up on a week’s worth of podcasts (ours is a great place to start) as well as phone calls with friends and family.
Be Consistent And Set Goals
“The most important thing is the consistency of your daily walking so focus on what your consistent daily step count is, rather than what your average is over a week” says Joanna. “Find a habit you do every day – be it checking your emails, buying your coffee, speaking to your parents etc. Whatever that daily habit is, resolve to do at least 1000, 2000 or 3000 steps prior to it. You could also split your day into time zones of three or four hours. In each of these zones resolve to achieve a certain number of steps. This is also really good to help avoid spending too long sitting down.”