Its not uncommon for doctors to tell their patients that they just need to exercise more. That tends to be where the assistance ends, and the rest is left up to you. You will need to figure out just what that means for you. One of the easiest forms of exercise out there is walking. It’s easy to create a walking plan that’s right for you; keep these tips in mind, and you’ll fast be on your way.
Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
When creating a training plan for yourself, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The internet has a plethora of plans at your fingertips. I suggest you turn to plans developed by two of the biggest names in endurance, Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway.
Hal Higdon halhigdon.com has training plans for just about everyone from 5K Walkers to Ultra Runners, and everyone in the middle. Not only do his plans offer a measurable, timed goals to hit; but there are also training notes with advice on approaching each session. Hal’s 5K walking is fantastic for people who have never followed any sort of exercise plan in the past.
Jeff Galloway jeffgalloway.com is known for his Run-Walk-Run approach that takes stress off of the body by changing up the muscle groups used during a workout. He’s the official coach of the runDisney community, and has taken thousands of people from the couch to the finish line using his programs.
Make Adjustments For Your Abilities
There are many training plans available on the internet. That doesn’t mean that you can’t tweak them to fit your situation, in fact you should! When you create a walking plan you want to start out slow and gradually increase your time and distance. For those that struggle with chronic illness it is even more important to give your body time to adjust. Here are a few ways to considering customizing your walking plan.
Start In The Place Where You Are – If you have a plan that starts out walking for 15 minutes, but you already know you can walk for 30, start at 30. Use that as your week 1 workout and move on from where you are.
Double Your Fun – The weekly increases in most ready made training plans are often too extreme for people with chronic illness. If you are looking at an 8 week plan and feel like you need more time, double up on each of the 8 weeks and stretch it out to 16. This will give you a nice gradual increase in your endurance, and give your body time to adjust to the increasing physical challenges.
Be Flexible – A training plan is not set in stone. Now and again everyone gets sidetracked, and when you struggle with a chronic illness becoming derailed is inevitable. If you feel like you need even more time at each week, just repeat it. If you have to stop exercising for a week or two due to illness, that’s OK. You will loose a tiny bit of the progress you’ve made, but that’s OK. When you feel better start back to your workouts and keep moving forward.
Remember After Care – Be sure to stretch out your muscles for 10 – 15 minutes after a run or brisk walk. Have a stretch or a massage, drink a bottle of water, and eat some protein. All of these things will help your body to recover from the workout.
Don’t Forget The Rest Days – Rest days are in your training plan for a reason, and if you live with a chronic illness they are even more important. It may seem like you’re not doing anything on a rest day. When in actuality this is the time that your body is becoming stronger and getting ready for your next workout. Rest and recovery is a very important part of any exercise plan, so enjoy them without guilt.
My Walking Plan
Within my larger SMART Goal of walking a 5K before July, each week of this training plan gives me mini goals to hit. By breaking down the larger goal, it gives me attainable measurements and improvements as I go. Baby steps are easier on the body, and give me lots of encouragement to continue.
To create this plan I started with the Hal Higdon 5K for Walkers Training Plan, and modified it to suit my current state of fitness. I made a couple of tweaks in the plan during the week, but left the weekend “long walks” the same.
Now it’s you turn! Create a walking plan that’s right for you, and start off on a brand new adventure.