You could hibernate indoors all winter. Or, you could make progress toward a meaningful fitness goal. No doubt about it — you’ll feel better, emotionally and physically, if you keep moving. You might need outside accountability to stay active. Or, you may simply need a reason to get excited about your workouts.
Tips to get active
Find or create a support group
Having a reliable workout buddy, or workout group, increases your chances of sticking with the program. Workout buddies provide support, accountability, motivation, and in some cases, healthy competition.
The easiest way to start a workout group or find a workout buddy is to tap into existing sources: people you’ve met at the gym, book clubs or church groups. You can also talk to community-based organizations, such as the library or the YMCA, to help start a group.
Make a plan
Make rules up-front, so everyone is on the same page. If you’re walking outdoors, will you meet if it’s snowing or raining? Is there an alternate indoor location for poor weather conditions? If you can’t make it, do you let everyone know, or is the group big enough that the workout can proceed with whoever shows up?
Whether it’s weight-loss, walking a certain number of steps or miles, running at a faster speed or lifting heavier weights, goals are what keep you moving forward.
If you’re in a walking group, you might increase the amount of time you walk each week or change routes to walk hills or more difficult terrain.
- Sign up to walk or run a charity 5k or half marathon.
- Set a group weight loss goal.
- Train to run the Grand Blue Mile together in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, on April 24, 2018.
- Pick a hike in a national park that you’ve always wanted to visit, and train to hike it together.
Blaze new trails
Why you might want to try hiking
While walking and hiking are certainly related activities, they are also quite different. Compared to walking on flat ground, hiking on uneven terrain increases the amount of energy your body uses by 28 percent, according to one University of Michigan study.
Hiking involves navigating varying ground slopes, and paths that go up, down and sideways. All of this requires slight shifts in the way your leg muscles work. This increases the amount of energy you use during your hike.
Because hiking is more physically demanding, it isn’t without its share of risks. It’s likely you will use muscles in your hips, knees and ankles you wouldn’t normally use.
Hiking can help improve balance and stability, and protect you from falls. Using all those different muscles can also prevent overuse injuries, such as knee or hip pain, that comes from walking or running on level ground.
Time.com External Site, July 2017
Looking for an adventure?
- Rails-To-Trails External Site: Find walking routes and trails in your area.
- The Sierra Club External Site: A chapter in your area may host outings such as day hikes, bird-watching trips and walks.
- WalkingWorks® External Site:As a Wellmark member, you have free access to this online platform through Blue365®. Walking Works helps you track progress toward fitness goals. Besides counting steps, you can also use it for running, swimming, yoga and many more activities. To sign up, go to Wellmark.com/HealthyDeals and search for Walking Works.