On Christmas eve last year, as my daughter's first birthday was fast approaching, it dawned on me just how quickly the last year had disappeared. I guess no surprise raising a child and working full time, but it did make me think about setting personal goals to ensure I consider what I want to achieve in the next year and start developing a habit to make that happen.
Among the goals that I came up with (including spending proper quality time with my daughter) was taking regular exercise.
Yes, that is a bit vague, so I picked a target to walk every month, 10 miles. Not a big target sure, but enough to get me out of the house doing something, and a reachable target for the long term (I was coming from a zero baseline!).
Being a bit of a tech fan, I thought I would look for an app to help me monitor my progress against my target and supply a little motivation. I did have a go with Google tracks, but found the output to be quite limiting. I settled with mapmywalk (available on both android and iOS). (There are plenty of others to chose from - Thorin wrote a good article highlighting a range of different fitness apps in December 2013)
This simple app records each time I go out for a walk, long or short. It records the distance, route taken and how many calories I have burned. You can view your progress over time, note the days you missed a walk and set yourself goals. It is all pretty straight forward and basic stuff. But I have found it very useful to track my progress and for me this has been a big deal. Seeing me reach my goals has been a real reward and a motivator to go out and do more. Perhaps if I was more committed to exercising I would not need an app or reward as a motivator. But for someone who had not exercises in years, it has been a huge help.
I have made good progress. Between 24 December to 1 January, I managed 13.58 miles. I completed another 33.78 miles in January and already completed 11.27 miles by 7 February. This does make a bit of a mockery of my 10 mile monthly target, but I am coming from a very low baseline; I don't see that as a problem.... well so long as I don't stop each month when I reach my goal.
I have not really felt much difference in myself since starting to walk regularly. For me one of the positives has been taking my daughter for walks in the pushchair and taking her to the swings. I have also found a few green spaces near or house that I did not know existed! I have even found a small river with ducks and a public grazing field with sheep! The surprising benefits of exercise that can put a smile on your face.
I will leave you with two final thought... neither are my own, but both resonate here.
"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." Maria Robinson
"The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things." Henry Ward Beecher