How to Make Walking For Fitness a Daily Routine

Every morning as soon as I finish the news at 7am I head to the kitchenette down the hall from the main studio. I put my cup in the Keurig machine and get it started. I then walk to the other side of the building to our second kitchen, that’s closer to my office, and grab the Chobani Greek yogurt I put in the fridge when I got to the station at 330am. I return to the first kitchen and grab my coffee and then walk to my office to eat the yogurt and enjoy my coffee.

Every. Single. Morning.

My wife, Ava, says I’m the most “routine-driven” person she knows. She doesn’t see my 7am routine, but she does see my going to bed at 8pm every weeknight. She knows about my 2:20am alarm so I can do a high intensity cardio workout before heading to work. She’s there when I take my afternoon nap at 1pm and when I have the same snack each afternoon at 2:30pm.

Yep…I got my routines and these aren’t even all of them. I am in no danger of ever being called Captain Spontaneous.

Have you ever seen a picture of Steve Jobs wearing something other than a black turtleneck, jeans, and running shoes?

IMG_3467He did that so he wouldn’t have to think about his clothes. He didn’t spend any time on shopping for different styles. He never had to try stuff on to make sure it fit, and he certainly spent zero minutes each day deciding what to wear.

It’s estimated that you and I make about 35,000 decisions every single day. Each decision comes with a small cost. They all require some measure of energy and time. Steve Jobs was not willing to spend either on his clothing. And, clearly, I’m not willing to spend either when it’s 7am.

I have several close friends who wince at the idea of too many routines. One calls herself a “fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl.” And, I get that. There’s something exciting about letting life unfold without feeling like you need to manage every aspect. Spontaneity allows new adventures that routines often prevent.

And, even worse, too much routine can put a choke hold on learning and growing. How many times have we heard someone described as “set in their ways?” That typically is a person no longer willing to try anything different…to learn anything new…to experience the beauty of adventure. I don’t want that.

But, there is great value in some routine. It saves time and energy when you don’t have to make those decisions over and over. Routine helps build and PROTECT good habits…like fitness. My goal is to reach at least 20,000 steps every day.

Many of these steps are now part of my daily routine. I don’t have to make decisions every day about how many steps I’m going to get, when I’m going to get all of them, and how. I don’t have to spend time and energy figuring out each day what I’m going to do to keep my fitness momentum moving forward.

These routines also protect my fitness activities. I don’t have to be concerned about something else pushing fitness aside. And more importantly, these routines have made fitness a part of my lifestyle.

Ironically, my friend who’s the “fly by the seat of my pants” girl is a personal trainer who doesn’t leave her fitness activities to the whim of the moment. She also has a daily fitness routine.

I’m convinced that if you want fitness to become a part of your daily lifestyle you need to grab hold of the benefits of establishing a routine. Here’s the thing…it’s really not hard…even if you LOVE living spontaneously.

Here’s the simple way to establish a fitness routine that will change your life. To be clear…by fitness routine, I’m talking about intentional walking. That means setting either a time or step goal that you can accomplish every day.

Walking is a great fitness activity that will change your life.  You don’t need special equipment or location. You can do it anywhere…anytime. And, the benefits are immense. (HERE are nine that I LOVE)

Walking is the perfect foundational fitness activity. Here are the three things you need to do to build a daily fitness walking routine that will last.

Start Small

It’s human nature to be excited at the beginning of a new adventure. Have you ever felt that on New Year’s Day as you make a list of resolutions? You’re excited about the changes they will bring to your life. This is normal.

The problem is that excitement often causes us to start way TOO BIG. That means your new goal of fitness compels you to dive in with hour long (or longer) workout every day. That rarely lasts. The key is to push back against your excitement and start small.

Starting small also works if you’re feeling anything, but excitement.  If it feels like fitness is something you HAVE TO DO, but you’re not looking forward to it then starting small is perfect. It won’t feel overwhelming.

We’re going to start with a routine of intentional walking between 10 and 30 minutes. If you’re excited about this, resist the urge to push beyond 30 minutes…at least for the next 90 days. If a fitness routine feels like a burden then 10 minutes is a great place for you to start.

To help put this time commitment in perspective, the average person gets about 1,000 steps for every ten-minutes of walking. So a daily 20-minute walk is 2,000 steps and a daily 30-minute walk is 3,000 steps.

Create Consistency

The beauty of a routine is that you don’t have to think about it every day. You just do it. Steve Jobs didn’t have to think about his wardrobe every day…he just had to get dressed.

You want to start by choosing a time each day that won’t be disturbed by outside pressures. For example…maybe you’re considering using 15 minutes of your lunch break for a daily walk. Does your lunch ever get interrupted by work issues? If so, that’s not the best place for a new routine.

If you’re considering a 20 minute walk each morning before leaving, is that a guaranteed time for you. If so, great. Will it be hard to get up earlier? You don’t want to be fighting that battle too. You want a time that will almost always be clear for your new routine.

For example, one of my daily routines happens before 5am every morning. I need to  warm up my voice before we go on the air. I walk around the radio station and sing. Thankfully, no one can hear this hideous noise I’m making. Since I walk while I do this and it serves double duty as fitness and preparation. It happens the same time every day and I don’t have to think about it. I just do it.

Carefully think through your daily schedule and find a block of time between 10 and 30 minutes that you are pretty certain will always be available for a walk. Don’t forget, weekends are usually different so if you can find a time that consistently works seven days a week that would be ideal. if not, you might have a separate routine for the weekend.

I also suggest finding a consistent place to walk. Is it easy to get too? Can you walk there regardless of the weather? Will it always be a safe place? These are things you don’t want to have to decide every day. Take the time now to make all these decisions once so you don’t have to keep making them every day. That’s how routines get established.

Pick a time and a location that work every day.

Think Long

A few years ago my wife, Ava, was having computer issues and called tech support. It was not going well. I’m not sure he was understanding the problem as Ava was explaining it. It was frustrating for both, but that really intensified when Mr. Techie told my wife she needed to readjust her expectations. She didn’t take that too well.

That thought might have worked better if Mr. Techie started with a conversation about expectations. What did Ava expect from their phone call?  It’s important to get expectations properly set on the front end so frustration remains minimal.

That needs to happen here too. Fitness ALWAYS takes time. It’s not going to happen in 30 days…or even 90 days. Fitness is a life-long pursuit…not a short term project.

Even if you have specific measurable goals you want to accomplish you still need to continue fitness activities to maintain what you’ve accomplished.

Set a routine and do it every day, but don’t expect quick results. As that reality becomes more clear, resist the urge to supersize your routine. The goal right now is simply to set a fitness routine. Keep at it and results WILL happen…just not as fast as you may want.

These three components will help you set a routine that guarantees you’re moving towards fitness. Start with a small chunk of time. It needs to be sustainable and you can always add to it. In fact, you most likely will. Find a consistent time each day and location. Routines don’t need to be re-decided every day. And, lastly, remember fitness is a life-long pursuit.

Lastly, routines have another benefit. The result of not having to spend time or energy thinking about them you can spend those resources on other things…more important things. I suspect if Steve Jobs had to spend time and energy every morning deciding between khaki and navy blue and what tie would match and whether the shoes also match we wouldn’t have the iPhone today. Just saying…

And one more. Making some of the important things of life part of a daily routine also frees you up to…well…do other things. Just a few hours before the first pitch was thrown on Opening Day this year I decided to go to the game. I found a ticket on StubHub and spent the afternoon at Camden Yards thoroughly enjoying an UNPLANNED day at the first game of the year.

Hmmm…maybe you can call me Captain Spontaneous.

If you struggle with motivation to stick with fitness this blog will help. Don’t be intimidated by the title. That’s my goal…not yours. But, my bigger goal is to help you start a fitness journey that doesn’t stop and builds momentum. If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone and to the right and above on your computer) you’ll get an email with a link to each motivating article the moment it’s published.





  1. Dave, I listen to you 3 every morning. First time I checked out your blog. You are my inspiration. Keep sharing your Mission 20,000. Great hints.

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