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How to Start and Maintain a Walking Habit

Bridget is a life-long writer, runner, researcher, cat-lover, yogi and traveler. She is also a social worker and voracious reader.

Tips for maintaining a walking habit

Tips for maintaining a walking habit

Tips for Beginning Your Walking Habit

  • Set small goals. Starting with five minutes per day is 35 minutes per week, and 10 minutes per day adds up to 70 minutes per week! Start small and build up over time.
  • Plan out a route ahead of time. This can reduce the stress of making decisions on the go.
  • Dress for the weather. A warm hat makes a big difference on a cold day and boots with good tread can be the difference between a comfortable easy walk and a careful and anxiety-provoking one. A tank top and lots of sunscreen on hot, balmy days can save you from getting overheated and sunburned as well. Check the weather forecast and you'll thank yourself later.
  • Bring your phone just in case. The knowledge that you can contact someone if anything goes wrong on your walk offers peace of mind and a feeling of safety. You never know if you might come across someone else needing help or if you may need help yourself and a phone can come in handy in so many situations. Just be careful not to be on the phone while you're on the go- it's best to keep your eyes on the path, road, or trail to avoid tripping or crashing into someone or something else!
  • At dusk or dawn, always walk on well-lit paths. Reflective gear can be very important if you are walking near roads, in particular, making you much more visible to passing cars. Other helpful items include flashlights and watches with screens that light up if needed.
  • Tell someone where you're going. It is always beneficial to tell someone where you are going and/or roughly when you will return from your walks so that they know when to expect you or hear from you, and to check on you if they do not.

6 Ways to Shake Up Your Walk

If you are already a regular walker but get bored with routine, try these tips for shaking up your walk!

  1. Walk with a pet.
  2. Change up your tunes.
  3. Try an immersive podcast.
  4. Alter your route.
  5. Walk mindfully.
  6. Walk with a friend.
Walking with pets can help get you out of your head. Let them take the lead!

Walking with pets can help get you out of your head. Let them take the lead!

1. Walk With a Pet

Walking with your dog (or cat or small horse!) can shake up a daily walk. Your pet may want to venture on new paths, stop to investigate something or someone, speed you up or even slow you down a little bit so that you are able to take in details you might not normally notice. Enjoy some outdoor time with your furry friend and see how much more engaging it can be!


2. Change Up Your Tunes

Do you typically listen to the same kinds of music? What would happen if you were to try something totally different? Swap out the pop for country or the metal for classical and see how you feel!

3. Try an Immersive Podcast

Maybe you're sick of music or done with thoughtful and quiet walks. What about a podcast? Try one in which you feel as though you are a part of the story while you are walking?

One incredible podcast by Panoply that does just this is called The Walk- a story in which you are the main character. There are 31 episodes and each one is estimated to last for the length that it takes the average person to walk 1–2 miles. Check out the episode above!


4. Alter Your Route

Planning out a new route can be fun and interesting. Are there any new sights you might want to walk by? Maybe a trail deeper into the woods instead of staying on the beaten path? It might be worth it to try walking on a sidewalk around town instead of your usual walk in the park. Shake up the destination and see how you feel!


5. Walk Mindfully

If your usual walk involves picking up the pace to some music so you can get in your steps for the day or squeezing a fast-paced walk in during a short break you might enjoy a mindful walk every so often. Try walking without headphones, while noticing:

  • the feeling of your feet on the ground with each step
  • the smells in the air as you pass by houses or flowers or even a food truck!
  • the beautiful colors around you
  • the feeling of the air or breeze on your skin
  • the sound of your steps or any other sounds you hear around you
  • anything else you find interesting

The goal is to choose something and to focus on that thing specifically while on your walk. If your mind wanders (and it will,) just notice it and bring your attention back to whatever you are choosing to focus on. This can create a calming and very unique walking experience. You could also try listening to the mindful walking meditation below while on your walk.

6. Walk With a Friend

Solo walks can be great for de-stressing or enjoying time alone. But sometimes when we don't feel up for a walk or the idea seems monotonous, inviting someone along can change the whole experience. Walking is a great way to have a fun conversation with someone while getting your exercise in!


Most Importantly: Have Fun!

There will always be those days when we are too tired for a walk or it begins to feel like a chore and a few days off are just the trick. Give yourself a break and remember why you started: walking is fantastic exercise, it gets the endorphins going, can be done almost anywhere or anytime and most of all it is enjoyable!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Bridget F