I came across a recent article in The Daily Beast entitled, We’re Eating Less Calories But Are Fatter Than Ever, which gave me pause. It appears that over the last decade we, as a nation, have consumed fewer calories, but we are moving less contributing to increased weight gain. People have become more sedentary in large part due to sitting in front of computers, watching T.V, and playing games.
Camera Walking was created to inspire people to take a daily walk with a camera as a way to get people to move more. We have written posts about why walking matters, how to get motivated, and tips for making the walk more enjoyable. And yet, for some, it continues to be a challenge. I searched for tips from experts on how to get motivated to make walking a daily habit.
Reframe your exercise: According to Dr. Michelle Segar at the University of Michigan and author of No Sweat: Lasting Motivation to Exercise, if we focus on the immediate rewards rather than long-term benefits we are more likely to get moving. Telling ourselves that a walk is good for us (better health, losing weight) doesn’t help us get out the door. In fact some studies have shown that those who focused on weight loss goals and better health tend to spend the least amount of time exercising. However, focusing on the immediate results of walking: more energy, better mood, less stress, and an opportunity to connect with friends and family is far more motivating. Taking my camera with me helps me focus on the pleasure of exploring and capturing great photos that I can share after my walk.
Set up cues: According to a recent study in Health Psychology, paying attention to cues will make you want to move more. Start with external cues, such as putting your shoes by the door, setting a cellphone reminder, or schedule a daily appointment that you must keep. Personally, although I have been a regular walker for 5 years, I still put walking on my calendar and I have my camera visible. After a few weeks, your internal cues, such as noticing that your legs are tight from sitting, will kick in and help you achieve your walking goals.
Seek out nature: Increasingly more people throughout the world live in urban settings, and a growing body of research shows that people in cities experience more stress and anxiety. Gregory Bratman, a graduate student at Stanford University, found that walking in nature not only soothes the mind, but it also changes our brains that improves mental health. Although they are not completely sure what happens in the brain, their studies showed that people who walked in a park versus on an urban street were more relaxed and had better moods.
Find a walking route that takes you through nature, such as a park, a P-Patch, or along a neighborhood street with foliage. I know that when I walk through a P-Patch taking photos of the flowers, or walk through a park along the water I am much happier.
There are so many benefits from walking on a daily basis: it is good for our heart, can help prevent diabetes, improves our metabolism, and can help us lose weight. And yet, it seems to remain a challenge for many of us. We just need to take that first step to get out moving. With time, walking will become a habit that you won’t want to break. Camera Walking, we think, is one way to help you to achieve better health, fitness, and creativity. Give it a try. Grab your camera and go out for a walk.