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Walking is one of the easiest, quickest and least expensive ways to step up your fitness level. Adding steps to your daily routine — whether in small increments or all at once — can improve your health. According to the Cleveland Clinic, walking can improve heart and lung capacity, lower stress, raise your mood, help stabilize your blood sugar, reduce cancer risk, and improve sleep. The Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal reports that walking may reduce the risk of developing many chronic diseases, while increasing the chances of better long-term health. Best of all, walking is low impact, and can be done wherever you are, at your own pace.
The challenge, especially for those who sit most of the day, like professional drivers, traveling businesspeople and even office workers, is how to incorporate walking into the day. The good news is that even minor changes add up to more steps.
- Step Up – Tenet Health recommends taking the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
- Break it Up – You do not have to do your steps all at once. The National Institute of Health suggests breaking it up throughout your day by trying 10 minutes after breakfast, 10 minutes after lunch, and 10 minutes after dinner. At the end of the day, you have added 30 minutes of walking into your daily routine with little impact on your schedule.
- Slow and Steady – It is not a race. Verywell Fit recommends, when starting a walking program, being realistic about what you can do without being hard on yourself, and keeping your focus on starting slow and staying consistent. Then, gradually increase your speed and distance.
- Walk and Talk – Tenet Health recommends getting steps in while on the phone with friends and family.
- Live on the Edge – of the parking lot! Walking-based website walking4fun.com suggests parking farther away from the restaurant, office or wherever you are headed. You also can walk laps around your vehicle or a well-lit parking lot.
- Hit the Floor – Especially if the building has more than one floor! The website walking4fun.com recommends making it a habit to take the stairs to find the restroom on an alternate floor.
- Join a Gym – There are nationwide gyms with memberships that allow members to walk and workout at any of their locations across the country. As published on SteelSupplements.com, the “7 Best Nationwide Gym Chains (Great for Travelers)” include Gold’s Gym, Equinox, LA Fitness and 24-Hour Fitness as options worth considering. Not all gyms have locations in all states, so check out your choices to find one that best suits your needs.
- Use Incentives – Use a new book or movie you’re interested in as motivation to reach your step goals for the day, then reward yourself when you achieve your goal. Or, search online for organizations that give rewards for walking – for example, charitymiles.org lets you earn money for participating charities by using its free app.
- Search Online – If you are in a new place, health and beauty website Blissmark recommends searching online for local walking or running groups (if you decide to graduate to running). The site even shows those groups that welcome visitor participation. Facebook is great for finding local groups, MeetUp and WaBu offer access to walking partners, and America Walks are all online sites that can help you connect.
- Make Excuses – Walking is a great excuse to visit local parks, walking trails, shopping areas and neighborhoods, whether you are at home or on the road. For ideas, try using a mobile app such as AllTrails, or TrailLink by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
- Google It – When you are on the road and planning a stop, take an extra minute to find out if there are any special places in the area that lend themselves to a good walk or run. Search “places to walk near me,” and you are likely to find options for suitable places to walk in the area.
- Join a Challenge – Many online walking and running groups have online challenges where you can track your progress and find support and motivation to reach your goals. A great place to start is raceatyourpace.com, which has a large range of fitness challenges to join online.
- Stay Positive – Kaiser Permanente suggests focusing on what you have achieved and where you are going. Try keeping a walking journal, find ways to make walking fun, and regularly set new goals to help you stick with your commitment to walking.
Landstar BCO James Henson says he loves to walk and run whenever he is on the road. “Often when I’m parked in a lot, I’ll throw on my shoes and a safety vest and start doing laps around the lot, and other truckers will join me.”
Henson says he usually posts his runs in a Facebook group he joined to connect with other independent Landstar owner-operators. “Sometimes people will see it and make plans to join me. My wife and friends cheer me on, the Facebook group members cheer me on, and people at Landstar cheer me on. I post in the group because it encourages other BCOs to get moving too.”
He adds that being outdoors and seeing the country on foot is both motivational and enjoyable. “I try to get out and see nature no matter where I am. Side roads, parks, back roads – I love being outside, seeing the grass, sometimes even horses and cows. It makes the miles much more interesting.” Henson recalls the time he was running on a country road when an Amish horse and buggy passed him. “They all started cheering me on as we passed each other. It was great!”
Overall, the key to being a successful runner or walker is doing what works for you. “Any activity is better than no activity,” said Dr. John Jakicic of the University of Pittsburgh when speaking to the National Institutes of Health. “Do not look for the magic bullet. Look for what works in your lifestyle, look for what works for you, and then try to build on that every day.”
Some people like to track their steps using a phone app or a fitness tracker, which, depending on what you use, can track your steps by the day, week or month. According to “What to Know About Fitness Trackers” published in Family Handyman magazine, some can track other fitness facts such as heart rate, calories burned, floors climbed, distance traveled, GPS location and sleep quality. While not needed to start walking, it can be a way to watch your progress and motivate you to set and reach your goals.
Before starting any exercise program, consult a physician. Landstar does not endorse the programs mentioned within this article, and any information within is not intended to be medical advice.