Three ways to help you exercise more.

9,500 steps daily average was my pedometer reading until a few weeks ago.    Not very good if you are trying to get ready to walk 100 miles in 6 days.  Three weeks ago I decided to step it up, if you will excuse the pun. A new daily minimum of 12,000 please, Penelope. So I started to plan my walking. And to schedule it in the diary. Suddenly, my daily readout looked promising: 12,500; 15,750; 18,900 (wish I had run up and down the stairs before bed to get to 19000!).  A desire to beat yesterday's total began to creep in. Where else could I walk to get to my new target? And who else might come with me?

Here's what I have discovered that really helps:

1. Plan to walk and walk to plan.

By writing an appointment with myself in my diary, I find it's easier to do it.  It means I have a schedule; I know when I am to walk and I know when to do everything else . By putting it in black and white, it's one step further away from procrastination! The two rules of procrastination: 1) Do it today. 2) Tomorrow will be today tomorrow.  SO: I am now planning my walking times - and my walking routes, and putting them into my diary - and doing what I plan.  And planning which way to go is now part of the anticipation and enjoyment.

2. Invite a friend - publically if necessary!

Walking alone is fine, it's something I quite enjoy, and with my new earphones which are actually comfortable to wear, I can listen to praise music and sing along  - even out loud if I am in the countryside!  But I discovered that if I only plan to walk alone I can still put it off.  So I issued a public invitation to friends on Face Book and on Twitter, inviting anyone to come and join me at 10am last Wednesday to walk from Muswell Hill to Hampstead Heath and back via Kenwood.  A 7 - 8 mile round trip.

And of course having invited people I had to do it - even if no-one turned up! They could have phoned at any moment to ask if they could catch up, join in. So off I went - and started to tweet with photos as I went, just to prove I was doing the walk.  

coffee stop at Kenwood House

It was inspirational for me! I repeated the exercise the next day - invited people to walk from Muswell Hill to Raynes Park, which is about 12.5 miles, as I needed to get to Raynes Park by about 3pm.  It began well - listening to praise music, tweeting the progress, taking photos of landmarks en route.

Reaching Finsbury Park via the Woodland Walk/Capital Ring path

But then came the rain and I didn't want to get soaked on that particular day, so I hopped on the Tube at Highbury/Islington (after some 4 miles on the Woodland Walk from Muswell Hill via Finsbury Park and up to Highbury Fields) and decided that with what I would do at the other end, I would be fine. I purposefully climbed up and down every escalator at Tube stations; and then went to Waitrose and back, in Raynes Park - ostensible to buy G & T and a lime, but really to add more steps.  Honestly!

Join me on a walk next week? Castle Combe and the surrounding area, on the MacmillanWay and local footpaths in an 8 mile circular walk - Thursday August 9th. Let me know if you'd like to come. Start and finish in Littleton Drew.

3. Set short term and longer term targets and goals.

Aim for nothing and you are sure to hit it. And that's what I was doing until now. It was rather a hit or miss affair.

But now I have a definite daily goal: a daily minimum step count. And a longer goal: being able to walk 100 miles in 6 days, in five and a half weeks' time. Please hold me accountable!

None of this is anything new - I have heard it all before. What IS new is applying it to yourself as opposed to simply reading it. Being do-ers of the word and not hearers only. Now where did I hear that before? The New Living Translation says,  But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. (James1:22) Plan and schedule your time with God - whether daily, or a special time or retreat; join with friends to study God's word and pray together; set a target - maybe to read the Bible in a year, or to read a whole epistle in one sitting, for example.

As ever, life gives illustration to God's Word - or is it the other way around? The three ways to make myself walk and exercise apply equally as well to my relationship with the Lord.  You can hold me accountable in this one as well.

What have you found really helps you to exercise regularly and effectively - physically and spiritually? What makes a difference? Please do share - we all need as much help as possible in these areas!

I am regularly writing a blog  on preparing spiritually and physically to lead a Pilgrimage of 100 miles in September. For details of the Pilgrimage, click on the dropdown Cotswold Pilgrimage bar at the top of this page. We are full for this year - why not plan to come next year?

I plan to lead three Pilgrimages next year - the Cotswolds, plus 2 new ones: part of the Via Francigena in Tuscany, and the Mary Jones trail in N. Wales. Come with me?