Walking is such a great way to exercise that you may want to share it with your friends. Walking groups are an easy way to stay on track and jazz up your usual stroll. These suggestions will help if you want to join a walking club or start one of your own.
Advantages of Walking with Others
1. Spend time with friends. It’s difficult to find time to socialize and exercise when you have a busy schedule. Tackle both at once by exercising with your friends while catching up.
2. Strengthen your motivation. Teaming up with people who share your interests provides a powerful boost. You’ll feel more accountable when you know that others are planning to meet you or at least expect to see you out exercising.
3. Increase safety. Your personal safety may be a concern. Having additional people deters crime and provides quick assistance for accidents or medical emergencies.
Basic Practices for a Walking Club
1. Gather resources. Many local governments and non-profit organizations encourage walking groups. Check their directories or browse online to see what’s going on near you. Some groups also offer brochures and kits full of practical advice for forming a new club.
2. Recruit members. You may want to start out with just your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Spread the word via social media or post flyers on bulletin boards at the local grocery and yoga studio.
3. Schedule a kick off meeting. Get together in person to sort out the details. You could meet at someone’s home or in a popular coffee shop.
4. Determine the logistics. There are many questions to answer. Decide on where to meet and how often. Select a route. Discuss what distance and speed works for everyone involved.
5. Set ground rules. Clarify expectations. Will you welcome well-behaved dogs on leashes? Will you ask people to turn off their cellphones and take off their ear buds? How will you handle instances of members showing up late or having frequent absences?
6. Coordinate communications. You may want to collect everyone’s email addresses and other contact information. This way you can send updates like bad weather alerts.
More Advanced Practices for a Walking Club
1. Upgrade your neighborhood. Now that you’re organized, you may want to work together to make your local surroundings more walkable. Attend local government meetings to see what you can do to make your town friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists.
2. Brand yourselves. You could also give your group a catchy name and logo. See if the club members are interested in pooling money to print t-shirts and water bottles for everyone.
3. Hold contests. For added entertainment, consider introducing some healthy competition. Give out awards or create a shared log where members can post their accomplishments, such as increased distance and speed. To support a favorite charity, find sponsors for an annual walk-a-thon.
4. Spice up your social calendar. If you like your group members, you might want to see more of them. Establish a tradition for going out for coffee after walking on weekend mornings. Plan social events like outings to a nearby winery or go skiing for the weekend.
5. Plan for growth. Your group may become so popular that you need to manage its future. Create a policy for how you’ll handle new membership applications. Put together a decision making structure that suits your needs. You may need to elect a new president each year or write up formal by-laws.
Join your neighborhood walking club or launch a group of your own. You could make new friends while you boost your health and enhance your community.