The beginning of a new year seems like the perfect time to set new goals, resolutions and targets for the year ahead. Here at FitMyFoot, we’re on a mission to help people get healthier and happier, by getting outside and moving more.
In this post we’ll give you some motivation to walk more in 2021 to improve your physical and mental health and achieve your fitness goals. Plus, we’ll share some essential walking tips to make sure you’re enjoying pain-free walking and practicing foot wellness during your new endeavor.
Make 2021 the year you reach your fitness goals
Nearly half of all Americans set at least one new year's resolution. Amongst those who set new year’s resolutions, 71 percent make a resolution to diet or eat healthier, 65 percent want to exercise more and 54 percent want to lose weight, according to a survey. It’s safe to say that we all want to be a little more health conscious.
However, despite this good intention, only a measly 8 percent accomplish their resolution, according to Forbes and a whopping 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. Psychologists believe that setting goals that are too extreme or unrealistic results in failure, which is why so many people are unable to follow through with their new year’s resolutions.
Here’s an example of this:
- Goal: “I want to improve my health.”
- Intended action to achieve goal: “I will workout every day of the year.”
- Reality: You currently do zero exercise, hate working out and don’t want to get a gym membership.
According to psychological theory, setting realistic, attainable and measurable goals, and actually sticking to them, is the most effective way to create lasting change in your life. This is known as the SMART goal setting method, learn more about that here.
With this in mind, here’s how you can actually stick to your goals and improve your health in 2021:
- Goal: “I want to improve my health.”
- Intended action to achieve goal: “I will walk 10,000 steps per day, every day.”
- Reality: You walk to the coffee shop instead of driving, you take your phone meetings during a walk, you go for walks with friends.
That’s partially why we advocate for walking more in 2021 - it’s easy to implement, free, and a great option for beginners or those who don’t enjoy exercise. But the other part of the picture is that walking is SO good for you!
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Benefits of a daily walk
Walking has a plethora of health benefits, such as:
- Strengthens your lung and heart health
- Burns calories
- Lowers your blood sugar
- Safe for joints
- Boosts immune function
- Improves energy levels
- Builds strength
The best part is that you don’t have to do 10,000 brisk steps per day to get these benefits. Walking more throughout the day (e.g. taking the stairs!) is so beneficial for your health because it contributes to non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) - helping you burn more calories throughout the day.
If you’re wondering what NEAT is, it’s a component of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). Essentially, it contributes to how many calories you burn a day. Interestingly, NEAT contributes to 25 percent of your TDEE, whereas exercise only contributes to 5 percent, as outlined in this landmark study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
A study found that increasing NEAT from additional walking increased participants’ daily energy expenditure by two-thirds. The study found that after eight weeks, the increase in NEAT resulted in less fat gain even during periods of overeating, showing that NEAT helps weight regulation.
This is because being sedentary reduces lipoprotein lipase (LPL), an enzyme that breaks down fat stores to use for energy, as shown in a 2012 study by Hamilton et al. The more NEAT, the more efficiently you’ll become at burning fat.
Moreover, walking is a perfect option for beginners or if your goal is weight loss. Aside from it being easy, free and safe for your joints, it’s also a simple transition into the world of fitness. If you jump into weight lifting or high intensity workouts, you will notice a massive spike in your appetite and a decrease in your energy. This is because your muscles need additional energy to repair the damage from being intensely worked - which can lead to overcompensating: eating more and putting off workouts.
How to start walking more: Foot wellness
Practicing the right foot wellness is essential when you start a new exercise or walking routine. At FitMyFoot we create custom-fit footwear based on state-of-the-art foot science to ensure you are wearing the correct footwear to relieve pain and avoid secondary muscular compensation like hip pain.
For example, if you are wearing golf shoes during hiking - you may run into some issues. This might not even manifest as feet pain, it might present as hip pain. This is due to biomechanical irregularities in the feet, combined with incorrect footwear, exacerbating the issue.
Common foot problems include:
- Flat feet
- Plantar fasciitis
- Wide feet
- High arches
If you have any of these - which statistically is very likely - you need to wear shoes that are ergonomically designed to support your foot needs, otherwise you will experience pain, inflammation, joint and tissue stress, foot deformities, peripheral neuropathy and other, sometimes irreversible, conditions.
The best walking shoes
Before you start getting your 10,000 steps in, it’s absolutely critical that you invest in some walking shoes. Your super-cool new Nikes? They might not be the best for your new walking routine. According to a recent study, only 28 percent of people are actually wearing the right shoe size (width and length).
Here’s a comprehensive list from Runner’s World with the 14 best shoes for walking. Once you have chosen the shoes, the next step is to download the FitMyFoot Foot.Science App, which will request your foot measurements, from which a digitally mapped unique foot will be created, and the perfect insole sent straight to your door.
So when it comes to choosing the best walking shoes for you, the real focus should be getting the right insoles for you, which can be done at FitMyFoot.com. Our mission is to help you get outside and get moving, so you can improve your health and reach your fitness goals. That’s why we promote a daily walk, whilst practicing foot wellness - wearing shoe inserts that support your body and your goals, throughout your fitness journey.