(Don’t) Ditch Day: 99 Walks Encourages Better Health And Community

99 walks wants to start a movement of women finding better health and funJanuary 17th is (in)famously known as ‘Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day,’ or the day that is typically thought people have ‘ditched’ their New Year’s Resolutions by.

But 99 Walks Pack Leader Joyce Shulman believes we’re better than that, and wants to encourage mamas to continue to commit to building their health and community through walking.

Walking Does The Body Good

We hear (and say) it all the time; I just don’t have the time to exercise. But what we forget is that something as simple as walking for 15-30 minutes a day can be an incredible boost for our mental and physical health. And, walking is something we can do with our kiddos, our friends, our pets and even by ourselves.

Popular parent site Macaroni Kid recently conducted a survey that included 2300 women and moms. The results of the survey were sort of sad. Of the women surveyed, 73% said they were lonely. Additionally, it found that 89% of those surveyed wanted to lose weight and 90% wanted to improve their fitness.

Related: Your Struggles Are Not ‘Excuses’ The Mom-Shaming Campaign That Needs to Stop

What that tells us, and Joyce Shulman, the founder of Macaroni Kid, was that moms felt that improving their fitness could also offer them help toward their goal weights. Interestingly, they found that women who said they typically walked with their friends were two and a half times less likely to be lonely. Hence, Shulman and her team’s conclusion that walking is like magic for mamas.Walking can help women feel less alone

And they’re not wrong. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. Walking counts for that, and if you break it down daily, that’s about 22-30 minutes a day. The CDC recommends walking at a brisk pace for just a bit each day can help you maintain your weight (if that’s what you’re looking to do) and if you add time, you can even lose a few pounds (again, if that’s what you’re looking to do).

Walking isn’t just about losing weight though. Research consistently finds the benefits of walking to your mental health, and for many of us moms who feel consumed with our little people? That can be an easy way to boost our moods and support our emotional regulation.

99 Walks Wants To Get Women Up And Moving…Together

We were lucky enough to talk with Joyce about the 99 Walks movement. Joyce spent over a decade working closely with women and mamas through Macaroni Kid, and she saw firsthand the challenges women face today. They centered around connection, fitness, wellness and loneliness, she found. She herself has always been passionate about fitness, a walker herself since she was in middle school, and she knew that combining community and walking could do women a world of good.

Joyce founded 99 Walks to be a movement. She says she wants to give all women the chance to find a fitness program and community that is fit for them. Too often, she says, fitness programs (particularly app-based programs) are geared for more accomplished, mature athletes. Joyce believes 99 Walks is for everyone because it’s as basic as what we already do–walk! Walking, and especially as part of a community or friend group, is valuable for our minds, bodies and brains. Joyce says it doesn’t matter if you’re already involved in a fitness practice or just starting on a wellness journey, walking is the perfect exercise activity.

Related: Make Time for Exercise

She also knows that one of the best ways to keep people from ‘ditching’ their fitness goals is to make a movement that is fun, positive and supportive. Meant to be for women of all fitness levels, the 99 Walks community is incredibly powerful with its resources. Fun and encouraging, women have access to coaching, community and belonging while they set their goals and crush them — one step at a time. Joyce’s goal is to get one million women up and moving together and the 99 Walks challenge is a simple and fun way to do so.

Women will commit to walking 33 miles in a month (or set your own goals if that scares you! It’s okay to start small, but you’d be surprised at how fast that adds up!).

Then you’ll connect with the 99 Walks community and its motivating instructors. You’ll capture your walks with the App Tracker and each month you conquer your goal? You’ll earn gorgeous wearable inspiration, engraved with each month’s theme. Yes, you’ll not only be doing your brain and body good, but you’ll get a reward each month for doing so!99 walks encourages you monthly with wearable inspiration

Membership in 99 Walks includes daily walking classes, the app tracker, motivation and support from the incredible community of like-minded women walking alongside of you and the inspiration bracelet; valued at over $50/month, it only costs $16 a month. If you’re interested in reduced costs, they also offer 3-month and 12-month options.

You can join with your own local friends, women in your community (and make new friends!), friends from all over the country walking with you (you can even schedule walks and chats together!) or solo if you just want some peace and quiet with yourself.

So what are you waiting for? DON’T DITCH your goals for yourself this year, and get to steppin’ your way to a happy body and mind!

Tips For Walking

Walking will give you a little break in your daily routine, and that’s good for mental health. Be sure you are using GOOD shoes, as they really do make a difference. Look for padded tongues and heel pads and they should be supportive but not super tight. You want the heel wedge to be a bit raised so that the sole in the back is about twice as big as in the front and make sure you have room in the toes.

When it comes to clothing, think about the weather and what you’d be comfortable in. It’s always wise to wear bright colors in the day and reflective clothing at night for safety. Walk facing cars if you don’t have a sidewalk.

Before you walk, stretch! It makes a difference. And, stretch when you’re done, too as your body will love you for it. Start slow and end slow, and don’t go crazy lengths until you build yourself up. Add some variety with hills or different paths if you’re inclined to do so.

Pay attention to your posture when you’re walking too. Try to keep back straight with butt tucked in and shoulders square. Take natural strides, and be sure you’re swinging your arms for balance.

Make sure you’re hydrated (well-hydrated!) and if the weather’s not great for walking, consider the mall or your treadmill.

And consider joining 99 Walks so you don’t do any of this alone!


Feature Photo:pixelheadphoto digitalskillet/Shutterstock

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