Joining a walking group is one of the best ways to start and maintain a healthy walking habit. Aside from the benefits of positive peer pressure, a walking group is safer, more fun, social, and something you’ll probably look forward to each and every time that you meet. Your group can be as simple as a lunchtime walk with office friends or as formal as a community group that meets and walks at scheduled places and times.
There are walking and hiking groups in most communities and even in larger offices and work places. Walking with a group is a much easier habit to maintain than trying to do it alone. If you’re not aware of a walking club in your area and would like to start your own, here are some ideas and steps that you should take:
- Spread the Word!
There are many people that are looking for the motivation to start healthier habits…your walking club flier may be all the motivation that they need. Post some fliers around your office, church, community, or wherever makes the most sense. Briefly explain the benefits of walking, the amount of weight they could lose by walking, when & where your first walk will meet, and how you can be reached. You may motivate them to start…and who knows?…someday, they may inspire you to keep going!
- Your First Meeting
When you gather those that are interested in forming a walking group, have a brief agenda that will propose safe walking routes, meeting places, frequency and times to walk. This will keep your meeting on-track and allow others to see what you’re thinking while they’ll also be able to share their ideas on ways to make the group better.
Once you have your walking club formed, it can be fun to have some goals to keep you going. Just like a running race keeps a runner focused on training, a walk-a-thon can really unite your walking group towards a common goal. The March-of-Dimes has walks all over the United States raising money to prevent infant birth defects and reduce infant mortality. Walking for a good cause at a fun event can be a great way for your walking group to have fun and help the community. See the March of Dimes Walk-a-Thon website for events near you.
Staying organized and predictable will really benefit your walking club. Have an e-mail chain that reminds your walkers when & where to meet. Try to stay on schedule. You’ll never please all the people all of the time, but try to start and maintain a schedule that most people can make (i.e. “every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6pm”). A rigid schedule leads to a solid routine…and one that’s harder to break.
Not all competitions have to grueling. You can have a lot of fun with your walking group by simply counting steps. Many groups may even use a FitBit and send out a Goal Day Challenge to keep you motivated even when you can’t physically walk together. Some office groups have fun games with rewarding fitness challenges. Split your walking group into a few teams: male / female; office codes; etc… Make them wear their FitBit or pedometers all day / every day to record their daily steps. Update the status during your weekly meetings / walks. It’s amazing what a competition can do! You’ll see people taking the stairs instead of the elevator; parking further away at the store; walking the dog that extra block. And while trying to win, everyone will be walking off the pounds! A competition can be loads of fun and burn loads of calories for your walking group.
A fitness routine and healthier lifestyle can be hard habits to adopt and they can be much easier to attain with the help of others. If you want to start and stay walking, joining a walking club or group may be the biggest step you take towards succeeding!