By Nordic Walking Watford at
Making exercise a regular part of your routine or “habit” is key to being successful in the pursuit of fitness.
And it takes time for something to become a habit – that action or behaviour that we do automatically and regularly, without consciously thinking about doing it. Your brain likes habits because they’re efficient. When you automate common actions, you free up mental resources for other tasks.
I remember when I was first an instructor meeting my group of walkers on a Saturday morning and it was literally teaming down with rain. I made a comment to my group that we couldn’t have picked a worse day to be walking and I remember one of my walkers replying “Do you know what, I don’t even register it’s raining anymore. It’s Saturday and I Nordic Walk- that’s what I do”. That right there is a habit. It had become automatic to go Nordic walking no matter what!
So how long does it take before a behaviour becomes a habit? An average of 66 days or just over 2 months for that new behaviour to become automatic. So you need to persevere with your exercise regime and that means it has to be achievable in the first place.
Don’t set yourself an impossible task. Nordic walking 7 times in a week IS definitely going to get you on the right track with your fitness but is it achievable? No probably not. So start small – just set aside 1 day a week when you can join a walk and stick to it. Write it down and stick it on your fridge. Studies show that this “implementation intention” makes you 2 to 3 times more likely to succeed.
Consistency is a major key to making fitness a part of your lifestyle. This starts with setting a schedule you can stick to and then sticking to it like glue!
You may have decided that you want to be fit enough to Nordic Walk a half marathon in 12 months time. But focusing on how you get there matters most initially. Establishing a new normal and building a new routine that you will stick to; not the results that you get. In other words, in the first 6 months, it is more important to not miss your walks than it is to make progress. Once you become the type of person who doesn’t miss walks, then you can worry about making progress and improving.
You all know I love this approach! When you have a specific objective you’re working toward you’re more likely to stay on track with your walking routine. So in 2022 try writing down your goals, and break them down into monthly, weekly, and even daily smaller targets that you CAN accomplish. These should be measurable goals, such as being able to Nordic Walk continuously up a certain hill or deciding to remain at the front of the group for every walk or joining a walk that is a longer distance.
The best walk is the one you enjoy and fitness needs to be fun – otherwise, you will always view it as a chore.
Our bodies very quickly become accustomed to any exercise we do so if we want to see improvements in fitness, it’s really important to keep adding in variation.
But how can we do that with Nordic Walking? There are a number ways and they form the FITT Principle of exercise:
F = FREQUENCY – so you can increase the frequency of your walks, so if you walk once a week, try stepping up to twice.
I = INTENSITY – so this is where your gears come in. If you are accustomed to a GEAR 1 walk, then mix it up with a GEAR 2 one.
T = TIME – if you normally walk for 1 hour then try adding some longer walks of 1.5 or even 2 hours
T = TECHNIQUE – this means adding in some different exercises to your regime so you could try one of our classes that incorporates strength exercises, or consider some yoga or event a different type of pole.
Also, consider that mixing up your walks will be far more beneficial for your fitness than doing the same ones each week. So if you currently do 3 adventure/gear 2 walks of 1 hour each week, try making one of those sessions a longer walk, one of them faster and one of them a slower pace.
Why go slower you ask? Well, walking more slowly gives us a chance to actually focus on technique rather than speed. And you may have fallen into the trap of walking very fast but using a Gear 1 technique. So slowing down gives you a chance to really concentrate on your Gear 2 – ensuring you are actually getting that full-body workout.
Lead Instructor and Business Owner