Walking Group? Tips To Keep It Interesting
Walking is a great way to get some exercise in daily. It is an activity that almost anyone can participate in, and your risk of incurring an injury is minimal. Walking as a form of daily exercise has also been gaining in popularity over the last few years, especially when it is done as a group.
Why Start a Walking Group?
You might have noticed small groups of people walking together. Whether it is on nature trails or just around the neighborhood, walking groups are becoming a common sight.
Even though you can get the same benefits walking solo as you do in a group, there are some great reasons why you might want to invite others along.
Walking groups aren’t a new trend, they have been popular since the 1980’s. The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently published a twenty year study that looked at the benefits of walking regularly. Researchers found that walking can help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and even reduce stress. Walking every day with a group can also minimize your risk for depression.
When you are walking with a group you are less likely to find excuses not to exercise daily. Studies conclusively show that you are more motivated when you are working out with others, and this includes walking. The same research also shows that when you are with a group you are more likely to walk faster, and cover greater distances.
Even though walking groups can be beneficial, especially if you need the added support and encouragement of others, creating one does take a little time and effort. If you are craving the companionship of others and want to combine a social activity with your daily workout, starting a walking group might be the perfect way for you to stick with an exercise plan.
How to Start a Walking Group
Starting a walking group in your area is relatively easy, but there are a few aspects to consider. While the goal of the group is to encourage a healthy lifestyle and get in some exercise, it is also a social outing. This means that you want to recruit members that everyone enjoys being around.
Even if your friends aren’t interested you can still create a fun and successful walking group, and here are a few tips on how to get started.
Flyers are a great way to advertise your group. You can easily hang them around your neighborhood, and pass them out at work or any gym or exercise class you are a member of.
When you are looking for fellow walkers it is important to make sure that they are people you will enjoy being around. Part of the attraction of these groups is that it gives you a chance to socialize, and for it to be successful everyone needs to get along.
Experienced trainers recommend waiting until you have at least two committed members before starting a walking group. This way you will still have a walking partner even if the other one can’t make it that day. Optimally you want the group to have 5 to 6 members. Anything larger can easily become unmanageable, and you also run the risk of blocking traffic if your route follows a busy street.
- Set a time
It is important to have a set time to meet and walk regularly throughout the week. If a schedule isn’t created and kept, the chances of the walking group staying together are minimal. The time should be convenient for everyone, and if it is kept consistent members are more likely to be able to fit it into their busy schedules.
- Convenient and safe meeting place
You want to pick a meeting place that is convenient and close by. If it takes 30 minutes just to get to the location, your walking group probably won’t last long. Neighborhood parks are some of the best places to meet for a group walk. If there aren’t any nearby, consider strolling around your neighborhood.
When you are looking for a good meeting place to start your group walk it is important to make sure that there is a good trail or sidewalk. You want to remember that this is a walking and not a hiking group so avoid paths that are difficult to navigate. Beginners might also want to stay away from hilly terrain, at least until they have built up their endurance.
- Stay together
Even though this is a group exercise some people will naturally walk faster than others. A good way to let everyone exercise at their own pace, while still being able to enjoy time together is to let the “power walkers” go on ahead. Once you’ve reached the halfway point have them loop back to the slower walkers. This way everyone can be at a pace that works best for them and still spend time together as a group.
- Keep it fun
Compared to keeping a walking group together and meeting regularly, creating one is relatively easy. Keeping everyone interested and willing to meet regularly for a walk requires hard work and a little creativity. If you can make the walks interesting and fun for everyone its chances of succeeding are significantly increased.
Tips on Keeping a Walking Group Fun
Walking as a form of exercise doesn’t have the best reputation. It lacks the adrenaline rush you get from some more strenuous forms of exercise, and most fitness enthusiasts simply find walking boring. It is also the top underrated form of exercise when it comes to weight loss, and improving cardiovascular health. It can be safely done by almost anyone, and you can even start or join a walking group.
If you already have a walking group or are thinking of starting one it is important to keep it fun and interesting. Not only will this help keep other members involved, but you are more likely to stick with it as well. Here are some of our favorite ways to keep a walking group fun.
- Even though it is best to have a set meeting place walking the same route every time is boring. Make plans to change the neighborhood or trails periodically. Sometimes just being able to look at different scenery is enough to make walking fun and interesting again. If changing the location isn’t always possible, you could try walking your normal route in reverse.
- If your walking group is comprised of members from another club you could try combining aspects of the two. This obviously will only work in certain situations, but it can help to keep your walking group interesting. For example, book club members can use the walk to discuss different novels that they’ve recently read. Not only will this give you something fun and interesting to talk about, you might even discover a new book to read.
- One great way to ensure members of your walking group are having fun is to schedule a treat afterwards. Instead of covering your normal route have the walk end at a nail salon, café, shops or even a movie. Scheduling rewards periodically will not only help everyone stay motivated, it also makes walking fun.
- If one of the goals of your walking group is to burn more calories, you might want to consider playing a game called “beat the clock”. Chances are you already have a couple of faster walkers in your group, and this game is bound to please them. The goal is simple, set a time that you want to finish the route in. Every week try and beat the preset time, and don’t forget to congratulate each other whenever you finish the walk a little faster.
- Another fun way to keep walking groups interesting is to create a scavenger hunt. Throughout your route hide several clues for members to solve, all leading to the “treasure chest”. Another way to have a scavenger hunt during a group walk is to download the geocaching app. This will take you off of your regular route, but it is an easy and inexpensive way to have fun and get in some low impact cardio exercise. An added bonus to using the app is that everyone can participate.
- You can also keep your group fun and give it a purpose by walking for charity. Simply by downloading the free “Charity Miles” app you and your group can choose from several non-profit organizations. For every mile logged by the app, twenty-five cents will be donated to your chosen charity. This is one of the best ways to help keep your group motivated, along with giving everyone a sense of purpose.
Have Fun with a Walking Group
Walking even for 20 minutes a day can boost cardiovascular health, but it is not always everyone’s favorite activity to do. Starting or joining a walking group is a great way for you to start improving your health, and the companionship and support you get from others can be an invaluable tool when it comes to sticking with an exercise plan. When you take the time to make your walking group fun and interesting for everyone involved the chances of it lasting are dramatically improved.