10 Essential Tools for Any Walker

By Erin Palinski-Wade

Whether you have yet to start your walking program or are already a seasoned walker, certain tools can enhance the effectiveness of your walk as well as make your life as a walker easier. Although you don’t have to have any tools as a walker other than your feet and supportive footwear, adding tools to your walking workout can help in a few ways.

Many of the tools listed here are just fun to have. Sure, you don’t have to have them to walk for exercise, but having them can make the journey even more fun.

A baseline

As you get started with your walking plan, you no doubt have certain goals in mind. Perhaps these are to improve your overall health or achieve a certain body weight. However, if you don’t know or remember where you started, it can be hard to track your progress and realize your accomplishments over time. First, have a baseline of your overall general health by having blood tests done before starting your walking program.

Also, know your current Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference, and body weight. Knowing these numbers will allow you to easily track changes over time, and help you to stay motivated as you work toward achieving your ultimate goals.

Proper footwear

The most important part of walking is the right pair of shoes! Having properly fitting footwear is essential in preventing walking‐related injuries and discomfort. Based on your health needs, you may need more specialized footwear. For example, individuals with diabetes need to make sure their footwear protects against blisters or any potential irritants to prevent wounds and infections. Even individuals with orthopedic issues such as bunions can benefit from specialized footwear.

Always make sure that your footwear fits well and is comfortable. One brand known for comfort is the Ryka Radiant shoe, but many other options may be appropriate for you depending on your needs. For specialized footwear options, follow the recommendations of your podiatrist.

Water bottle

Staying hydrated is key to good health when it comes to exercise. The more you exercise, the more you sweat, which means the more water you need to drink to replace what you have lost. Dehydration — even slight dehydration — can drain your energy levels and even lower your metabolism. To help you stay hydrated, invest in a good water bottle you can carry with you throughout the day.

When choosing a water bottle, look for brands that are BPA free, lightweight, and portable. If you want to drink while you walk (for instance, if you walk in very warm weather or for long periods of time outdoors), you may want to consider using a hydration pack that you can wear as well.

Logbook

Keeping a log of your walking workouts, your progress, and even any struggles you may be having is a great way to help yourself stay on track with your long‐term goals and evaluate your efforts over time. People who keep journals tend to be much more likely to achieve their desired results, and the same is true when it comes to logging your fitness progress.

You can keep a log the old‐fashioned way, with a paper and pencil. However, many websites and apps also allow you to easily track your progress online if that’s easier for you.

Fitness tracker

Fitness trackers are great devices because they allow you to track how many steps you’ve taken, how far you’ve walked, and other data such as calories burned and sleep patterns. There are many wearable and other fitness tracking devices, from low tech to high tech. If you are interested in a simple, low‐tech device, using a basic pedometer is a great way to track your total steps and the distance you walk each day.

Among the more popular and higher‐tech tracking devices are wearable wristband fitness trackers, such as Fitbit. This wristband can be worn 24 hours a day and track the number of steps you take, the calories you burn, and even your sleep patterns. You can wear it no matter what you’re doing, from showering to sleeping.

Because devices such as this are worn all day and all night, they provide a more accurate way to track your total daily activity and calories burned, helping you to reach your weight‐loss goals more quickly.

Digital scale

When you are working to lose weight, having an accurate scale on hand is essential. Without weighing yourself, it can be hard to know whether your weight is changing. If you’re in the market for a scale, try getting a digital one that contains Bluetooth technology. This feature allows the scale to effortlessly send your weight, body fat percentage, and BMI over a wireless connection to the smartphone app or website that you use to monitor your diet and fitness progress.

Safety supplies

Taking your safety into account is key, especially if you plan to walk outdoors. If you walk near traffic, make sure you wear reflective clothing to alert vehicles to your presence. If you walk in the dark, carrying a flashlight or even wearing a headlamp is ideal for making sure your walking path is illuminated to protect against slips and falls.

And whenever you walk, carry a cellphone with you so you can call for help in case of an emergency. If you have a medical condition, such as diabetes, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet as well so that if you do need help, medical responders will be aware of your condition.

Walking weights

If you are looking to maximize the intensity of your workout, adding resistance is a great option. Resistance allows you to not only burn more calories per minute as you walk, but also to build muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism, which helps you to not only lose weight, but to keep it off as well.

When choosing weights to walk with, make sure you select weights that are light enough to carry for the duration of your walk without sacrificing form. One great option is Gold’s Gym Soft Walking Weights, which are available on Wayfair. Before adding weights to your walking workout, however, make sure to discuss with your physician whether resistance training, especially while walking, is appropriate for you.

Social motivation

Although you most likely started your walking workout with the best intentions, at times it can be difficult to stay motivated or keep at it. However, staying on track and being consistent with your walking efforts is key to both losing weight and keeping it off long term. It helps a lot to have motivation from friends, family, walking partners, or fitness groups!

One of the most inspiring tools now available is social motivation through an app or website. Online fitness communities consist of members who have similar goals and challenges. Communicating with these members can keep you inspired to get going and give you additional tips and advice to overcome challenges you may face along the way.

A plan!

No matter how big or small your goals are, achieving them isn’t possible without a plan of action. Stating that you’ll start to walk for weight loss is great, but unless you lay out exactly how you plan to do it, it may not happen.Detail when, where, how often, and for how long you’ll walk.