In the hustle and bustle of the day, exercise is often one of the first things to get cut from the to do list. One way to keep it on your priority list – and keep it fun – is by forming a walking group.
Want to knock out two of the Power 9TM in one shot? Forming a walking group will not only help you “Just Move,” it also helps you find the “Right Tribe,” a social group that supports healthy behaviors. And those aren’t the only benefits to walking with a group – studies show that people are more likely to keep a regular fitness schedule when they exercise in groups of two or more. Need more reasons to walk? It’s good for your heart, it’s good for your overall health, and carving out a little bit of time to do something for yourself every day is good for your mental health.
Whether you want to walk around the block or get in a few miles, there’s sure to be people near you with similar goals and timeframes. Here are a few tips on how to find them.
- Put a notice in your community newsletter inviting people to a start-up meeting and chat with your neighbors to see if they’re interested.
- Ask co-workers if they would be interested in a lunch-hour walking group or even meeting at work a little early to start the day with a stroll.
- Talk to your local community center or fitness center about helping you organize a walking group. You can also organize walks through meetup.com, a website that allows you to find existing groups or start your own.
Once your walk group has members, it may be helpful to keep these tips in mind:
- Organize groups by time of day and desired level of activity. Group early birds together and after-work walkers together.
- Consider mapping out your routes ahead of time. MapMyWalk.com is a good way to plan a path and see routes other locals have already established. You may want to consider routes that are well lit.
- Safety first. Wear reflective clothing if your group will be walking when it’s dark in the morning or evening. You may want to bring a cell phone for emergencies.
- Think about a Plan B in case weather prevents you from walking outside. Is there a mall nearby? A school gymnasium?
For more tips and ideas, try some of these great resources:
HealthyAlberta has plenty of tips on how to get out there and get moving, no matter what your age or level of physical fitness.
Get Your Walk Score! Type in your address to see how easy it is to walk or bike to schools, grocery stores and more. There’s also a tool that can tell you how long your commute is by car, by bike or by foot – and it will also map out safe routes for you.
How Walkable is Your Community? The Department of Transportation gives you a checklist of things to note about your community, including traffic levels, access to sidewalks and more.
How Much is Enough? How many steps a day is enough? What kind of a time commitment will it take? How will I possibly find the time to do it? The Walking Site answers all of those questions and then some.