Walk Before You Fly

walk before you flyWhy walk before you fly? Many of us are less active at home than we need to be when we travel. Here are some tips to help you to dial up your fitness and begin a walking program BEFORE your next trip or vacation:

1. If you’ve got an internal ‘no-sayer’ rejecting your walking plan, it’s ok to start with some other kind of movement, like dancing to your favorite music or getting the yard and garden ship-shape. Unless you’re planning on dancing or gardening around the great capitols of Europe, however, at some point you’ll want to do some pre-trip walking.

2. Do it your way. Some people prefer to think in terms of minutes walked, others like to count their steps with an inexpensive pedometer. The best way is the one you’ll use!

3. Check your baseline in week 1. The easiest way to do this is to wear a pedometer for a couple of days to see how many steps you normally take in a day. Even if you prefer to track minutes walked during the weeks before your trip, it is helpful to borrow a pedometer or pick one up (dependable ones run $10-$20) to wear for 3 days just to see what daily average you’re starting with. Most health professionals recommend 10,000 steps per day to maintain good health. Depending on your plans for your trip, you may actually want to be walking more than that by the time you fly. Don’t worry if you’re nowhere near that number of steps right now – instead congratulate yourself on catching this today, before it causes a trip snafu! There are lots of ways our brains can fool us around our activity level, so be sure to check actual steps rather than assuming a certain fitness level.

4. No comparing yourself with the Joneses! That means a gentle increase from your baseline! Forget about what you’ve heard you’re supposed to do and listen to your body. Keep your upcoming trip in mind as you begin. What better carrot than knowing you’ll be ready to stroll through Hyde Park in London or up the winding path of Mont St. Michele in France orMont Saint-Michel past all the main sights of the Louvre in Paris or stride atop the Great Wall in China – with ease! Add 5 or 10 minutes at a time, or 500-1000 steps and continue that way for a couple of days or until you’re feeling ready for an upgrade – of minutes walking, that is!

5.  I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that it is always a good idea to discuss any change in activity with your doctor – but I will anyway.

6. Don’t forget the shoes! Comfortable…good cushioning…custom inserts if you need them. Get them early, and wear them often! I know you’re nodding right now as you read this, but don’t just nod! Pull them out of the closet now and try them out, or get new ones if needed. This week!

7. Make it social. Even if you think of yourself as a rugged individualist, make an exception and tell someone what you’re doing for the next 4 weeks. Invite them to join you. Set up a process of connecting with someone by email, or phone, or video chat to report your progress. Post your updates, musings, and challenges on Facebook. Get your other travel buddies involved! You’ll help yourself, and you’ll be inspiring them to have their best trip yet too.

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