How to Beat Boredom When Walking

Woman smiling on a walk

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Having fun is key for sticking with any exercise routine. Feeling interested in and excited about regular activity keeps things fresh, bringing you back day after day. But if you do the same type of exercise on repeat—such as walking—you might find it gets a bit dull after awhile.

Still, walking is great exercise. Its benefits range from preventing heart disease to strengthening your bones to helping achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Rather than let your daily stroll fall by the wayside, you can add plenty of creative tweaks to make it more motivating. When your walk feels like a slog, try these tips to beat boredom.

Mix It Up

Think a walk is a walk is a walk? That’s not necessarily the case. All sorts of other movements can be incorporated into both treadmill or outdoor walking. Try mixing things up with a walk/run combo, some light jogging, or power walking.

Or, if you’re on a treadmill, vary your terrain to include hill climbing or intervals. You can even grab lightweight dumbbells or two to give your arms a workout as well as your feet.

Make it Mindful

Walking isn’t just a boon for physical health—it can also be a part of your mental health self-care toolkit. In fact, mindful walking is an entire subcategory of walking that involves paying attention to bodily sensations and your immediate surroundings.

Numerous studies have examined the relationship between walking and mindfulness. In one, subjects who participated in a mindful walking program experienced reduced symptoms of psychological distress and greater quality of life than those who did not. In another study, a 10-minute bout of brisk walking accompanied by meditation resulted in improved mood in young adults.

Mindfulness Tips for Walkers

To get in on the mindfulness action (and make your walk a bit more interesting), try any of these tactics:

  • Maintain an awareness of your breathing as you walk.
  • Find something you’ve never noticed before on your walking route.
  • Focus on sights, sounds, or sensations you experience as you go.
  • Bring wandering thoughts back to physical experiences such as the rhythm of your footfalls.

Invite a Friend

For overall good health, exercise and socializing go hand in hand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when you work out with a partner, you’re more likely to feel more motivated, adventurous, and consistent.

Meanwhile, a 2016 study on older Japanese adults found that those who exercised with others self-rated their health as higher than those who exercised alone. Before you head out on a walk, pick up the phone and ask a friend to join you. As you log the miles, you can catch up on what’s new with your pal—and perhaps beat boredom while you’re at it.  

Use a Different Measurement

Anyone who has watched the seconds tick by on a treadmill screen knows that focusing on the clock can make exercise tedious. Rather than ticking off a certain number of minutes or miles, give some thought to an alternate measurement for your walking gains.

Using a pre-determined number of chapters in an audiobook, an episode of a podcast, or a particular number of songs on your playlist as a yardstick could be a game-changer. You may be surprised at how fast time flies when you shift your focus to these more interesting, less monotonous goalposts.

Make a New Playlist

There’s no denying the motivating power of music! Just about any activity becomes more fun with a soundtrack behind it—and that includes exercise. In fact, science has confirmed that music gets us moving. In one small study from 2015, music enhanced subjects’ performance of interval training exercises.

Similarly, a study from 2014 found that people in an urban setting who listened to more up-tempo music were more likely to increase their walking speed. Curate your own perfect playlist by selecting energetic songs that make you feel like moving and grooving.

However, it is important to aware of what is going on around you when you have headphones in; or consider only wearing one at a time. Being distracted while walking can lead to injuries especially if you do not hear an approaching car or notice a change in the terrain. It also can put you at risk if you cannot hear someone approaching you with inappropriate intentions.

Plan a Pitstop

In the grand scheme of things, the purpose of walking is to get you from point A to point B—so how about using your walk to reach—or stop—at)a destination? If you live in walkable proximity to stores where you typically run errands, consider getting there on foot. You’ll get a one-two punch of exercise and productivity.

Or, to make things more enjoyable, use your walk for a leisurely pursuit. For instance, take the kids to a splash pad, hit the farmer’s market, or explore a nearby park during your walk. You could even plan a nighttime walk to a local park for stargazing.

Try a New Neighborhood

If you are passing by the same old neighborhood fixtures until you see them in your sleep, maybe it’s time to get a new beat. Walking through your dream neighborhood, an area you’ve never visited before, or a part of town where you have happy memories could add some much-needed pizzazz.

Not only will you jazz up your walk, you’ll play tourist in your own town. You might see something you have never noticed before since walking provides an up-close-and-personal experience of unfamiliar places.

When walking in a new neighborhood, be sure you take extra safety precautions. Not only are you in an unfamiliar area, but you also do not know where to find safety if you should happen to need to take refuge. You also should make sure you have access to a map and a fully charged phone in case you get lost.

Have a Walking Meeting

Whether you work from home or head to the office every day, there may be a place in your schedule for walking meetings. Invite in-person co-workers to leave the desks behind and join you for a walk around the building.

Or, if you’re working remotely, turn off your camera, pop in your earbuds, and take a virtual meeting outside. Challenge others in the meeting to do the same, if feasible. It is a great way to get some exercise while meeting your work responsibilities.

A Word From Verywell

Walking may not be known for its excitement factor, but it is an excellent, easily accessible form of exercise for most people. If you feel your daily walks are getting stale, try to vary your routine. With a few small changes, your regular walk could shift from autopilot exercise to something genuinely fun.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the benefits of walking?

    For an activity you do every day, walking comes with an impressive list of health benefits. This form of exercise has been associated with reduced blood pressure, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and better mental health, among other bonuses. Plus, walking strengthens your muscles, improves overall cardiovascular health, and, as a weight-bearing exercise, builds stronger bones.

  • How much walking should I do in a day?

    You’ve probably heard 10,000 steps recommended as a daily walking goal. It’s true that walking more throughout the day can boost your health in a number of ways. But for some people, 10,000 steps per day just isn’t realistic. It may be best to simply work in as much walking as you can, remembering that some movement is better than none at all.

  • What can I do while walking?

    Despite the old joke about the inability to walk and chew gum at the same time, there are plenty of activities you can try concurrent with your stroll. Try making phone calls, thinking through a problem or issue, or planning a few healthy meals while you’re walking. 

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