Charlotte Hawkins On Setting Walking Targets

I have to admit that sticking to my New Year’s resolution of walking 10,000 steps a day has been harder than I thought. I made a series of resolutions this year, and that was supposed to be the easy one! It was a way of having a regular activity I could easily fit into my schedule alongside work and looking after my four-year-old daughter Ella Rose. Ten thousand steps a day burns around 400 calories, which means you lose about a pound a week without even noticing. I thought it would be great to have that activity target as a minimum, then I could add my other activities on top.

There are those days when it’s a breeze, but strangely they are not the ones I expected. It’s usually the days when I’m at home running up and down stairs, doing the washing and tidying up toys that rack up the most steps. Then there are the days when, although I feel like I’ve been rushed off my feet, I’ve actually just been sat in the studio for much of it. I then end up frantically jogging around the lounge at 8.30pm, desperate to hit my target before bedtime! I’m not giving up, however, I’ve just had to reassess. I’m keeping a tally of the odd day when I can’t get to my 10,000 aim – sometimes that’s when I can’t wear my tracker watch, like when I’m on the National Television Awards’ red carpet! I then make up the shortfall at a later date, so I am sure to still stick to my target.

Just doing some extra walking may not sound like a massive achievement, but when you’re setting a challenge it doesn’t have to be a major one. Even smaller ones on a regular basis can gradually make a big difference. Walking might not be the most glamorous exercise you can do, but you don’t need specialist kit, it’s free, and always right on your doorstep, so there are no excuses. Do it enough every day and you will really notice the difference. I’ve definitely felt the benefits – my legs feel stronger and my mind feels clearer. When I’m ploughing through emails or writing articles, getting up to have a quick walk helps me focus. Walking more frequently throughout the day and being more active, in turn, helps me feel more energetic. I can also definitely feel the effects of spending more time outdoors – there’s a wonderful feeling when you go on a bracing walk, plus you get a boost of vitamin D from the sun on your face (if you’re lucky!). Here are my tips if you want to set yourself a challenge:

1. Set a target

Make it a realistic one but aim to push yourself. It doesn’t have to be a major challenge, even smaller ones done on a regular basis can have a big difference. Set your mind to it and have the willpower to see it through.

2. Make plans

Decide how you’ll do it – set a time limit if necessary and work out a system. Record your progress so you know how you’re doing.

3. Never quit

Don’t give up if you find it hard, but do reassess if necessary. It’s better to moderate what you’re doing and keep going, rather than give up altogether. Find a system that works for you.

4. Reap rewards

Focus on the benefits to help motivate you. My legs feel stronger as a consequence of walking more, so I know it is definitely having an effect.

5. Be proud

Share your progress with people – when it’s made public it helps you keep going. It was Ben Shephard teasing me on Good Morning Britain that spurred me on with this challenge!

Health & Wellbeing