7 Reasons to Walk Alone

Woman Walking Solo

Jim Cummins / The Image Bank / Getty Images

To get into a consistent walking routine, it's essential to keep to a walking schedule, but finding a partner with the same goals who can match your calendar is complicated.

In the end, you may wind up having to walk alone on some days, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your goals—whether that's fitness, weight control, speed, or endurance.

Walking alone comes with plenty of benefits you wouldn't be able to get if you always have a walking partner, from working on deep breathing, to picking your own music, to changing your route at the drop of a hat.

Benefits of Walking Alone

Your schedule, preference, or particular goals may dictate that it's better to walk by yourself. Here are seven reasons why it may work in your favor to lace up solo.

Pick Your Pace and Path

It isn't easy to go at your own pace when walking with somebody else. You may want to build your walking speed on one particular day, but your walking partners don't want to race-walk. Another day you might prefer a slower pace while your partner wants to race.

Going solo also enables you to change your course on a whim without having to check with another person, whether that's detouring to get more of a walking hill workout, extending your route because you recently signed up for a 10K, or simply preferring new scenery after days of walking the same neighborhood route.

Set Your Own Schedule—and Change It

Maybe you prefer mornings or after work or lunchtime, but your walking partner has the opposite preference. Or perhaps an erratic work schedule makes it challenging to plan with others. When you walk by yourself, you can lace up as soon as it's convenient for you without having to wait on anyone else's schedule.

Concentrate on Your Form

When you're walking with a friend or your spouse, it's easy to get caught up in conversation and forget about your posture, stride, and other aspects of your form.

But if you go for a solo walk, you can actively focus on improving your walking technique, from proper arm alignment to hitting the ground from heel to toe. Practicing these motions can help prevent aches and pains post-walk.

Treat It Like a Walking Meditation

Whether you're walking a challenging uphill workout and need to save your breath, or you simply are not in the mood to talk or listen while walking, walking alone gives you an opportunity to focus on your breathing.

You can take it further by making your steps count as a walking meditation, particularly if you're seeking stress relief.

Walking meditation involves focusing on your sensations, repeating a mantra, taking slow, deep breaths, or any combination of the three.

Listen to your own music

Unless you have an understanding with your partner, it's not typical to privately listen to music or podcasts while you're walking with someone else. But when you're alone, you're free to plug in those earbuds and hit "play" on any genre without having to negotiate.

But for safety reasons, it's wise to use only one earbud and keep the volume low so you can stay alert to your surroundings and potential hazards.

Meet New People

You might set out to have alone time, but sometimes it's inevitable that you meet people when you're solo rather than when you're walking with a partner and appear in your own "space."

Since you're not in deep conversation with a walking partner, others may feel more inclined to strike up a conversation and introduce themselves.

Make Multiple Pitstops

Your goal may be fitness, but sometimes a new restaurant, garden, or garage sale catches your attention—pit stops that your walking partner might not be interested in making. If you're on your own, you can stop anytime and make up that time later.

Similarly, you may want to visit a restroom or water fountain more frequently than your walking partner. By going solo, you can navigate as you please.

How to Practice Safety When Walking Alone

Walking in general comes with its own set of safety tips—like the fact that you should always walk facing traffic and watch for bikes and runners—but if you're lacing up alone, there are specific measures to keep in mind.

Best Practices for Walking Alone

Use these safety tips when walking solo:

  • Let others know: Always leave a notice of where you are going and when you are expected to return with a household member. If you live alone, let a family member or friend know your plans and then let them know when you return.
  • Trust your instincts: Prioritize your safety. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, act to protect yourself. This may include turning around, going another way, crossing a street, calling for help, screaming, or running away.
  • Stick to familiar routes. Don't walk in areas that you're unfamiliar with when you're alone. It's also safest to choose locations where there are others around.
  • Avoid forest trails: Here, help may not be readily available in case of a health emergency. Falls, broken bones, bee stings, heart attack, stroke, and heat sickness are potential dangers.
  • Carry a cell phone: It might sound tempting to leave all technology at home for an uninterrupted walk, but when you're alone, it's crucial to have a phone in case you need to call 911 or someone else for minor emergencies.
  • Reduce noise distractions: Keep headphone or earbud volume low and keep only one earbud in.
  • Pack a first aid kit: Whether you scrape your knee or encounter poison ivy, having a kit on hand will prevent a bad injury from becoming worse. If you are allergic to bees, make sure to stock your kit with the needed supplies.
  • Carry a walking stick or poles: Tote a walking stick or walk with walking poles and know how to use them to ward off an attack. Simply having a stick may make you a less-tempting target.
  • Consider pepper spray: If you choose to carry a weapon like pepper spray, get training and adhere strictly to the laws of the area in which you are walking.
  • Know when to call 911: Understand the symptoms of health emergencies such as heart attack and heat stroke and seek assistance immediately.

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.