10 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Walk

You want to walk, but how do you get yourself out the door or onto the treadmill? That's the toughest challenge many people face. If you are a natural couch potato, you face it every day. But you can learn ways to motivate yourself and get healthy exercise consistently. You'll reduce your health risks and you may even find yourself crossing the finish line of a 10K, half-marathon, or marathon walk.


Register for a Challenging Walking Event

Team of Walkers at Race
Team of Walkers at Race. Hero Images/Getty Images

Give yourself a goal and a deadline. Register for a walking event that will be a real challenge for you. If you are a beginner, select a 5K or 10K charity event. If you are ready for a more serious challenge, register for a  half-marathon, marathon or multi-day walking festival. You will have no choice but to train consistently to be ready for the event. You can look forward to the triumph of crossing the finish line as a reward for getting regular exercise. You will also be motivated to prevent the suffering and failure you will feel if you don't train.

Find a walker-friendly event that will give you the right motivation, but keep in mind that since early 2020 many events have been cancelled or gone virtual. Visit the website of the event that you're interested in to get details about changes to event schedules.


Start a Shape-Up Walking Plan

Young Couple Walking Outdoors
Denkou Images/Cultura/Getty

Follow a shape-up walking and workout schedule to start seeing results from your fitness efforts. Having a structure and varying your workouts will keep you on track. When you begin to feel the difference in your stamina, muscles, and vigor, you'll want to keep going.


Wear a Pedometer or Fitness Tracker

Fitbit Charge 2
Fitbit Charge 2. Fitbit

Wearing a pedometer or fitness tracker can help motivate you to increase your activity. You can wear a device or start paying attention to the steps recorded by the pedometer app of your smartphone. Set your step goal at 6,000 to 10,000 per day, and find ways to add steps to your day.


Make a Walking Buddy

Women Walking with Water Bottles in Hand
© Terry Vine / Brand X Pictures / Getty

Walking friends can make a difference and get you out on a walk despite the weather or other excuses to skip your workout. You can keep each other moving with conversation, jokes, and coffee afterward. If you don't already have a walking buddy, there are ways to find them. These include locating Meetup groups, walking clubs, and ​local fitness clubs.


Keep a Walking Journal

Keep a walking log
Keep a walking log. Chris Tobin/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Track your walking minutes, steps, or mileage in a journal, whether on paper, an app or your computer. Total your progress each week. Set a goal and you will find yourself out walking just to make those numbers add up.


Join a Walking Club

Walking Club
Walking Club. Christopher Futcher/E+/Getty Images

Joining a walking club can keep you active. The largest organization worldwide is the IVV, with walking clubs in the U.S., Canada, Britain, and many European countries. You can also find walking clubs organized by health organizations, fitness clubs, schools, churches, and local parks and recreation organizations. Meetup groups are another form of walking club.


Buy New Shoes and Walking Clothes

Women walking outside
Hero Images/Hero Images/Getty Images

When you have new walking shoes or new walking clothes, you are the opposite of all dressed up with nowhere to go. Get out and try them out. Hate to walk in the cold? Buy the right layered clothing and you'll have to take it for a walk. Hate the rain? A waterproof jacket or umbrella can give you an urge to dodge the puddles. Does hot weather make you wilt? Wear sweat-wicking clothes, a great hat, and a neck cooler for staying cool on hot walks. Naturally, new shoes always nag you to take them for a walk.


Try Walking Gadgets and Apps

Apple Watch Apps
Apple Watch Apps. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Like pedometers, any walking gadget can get you moving because you want to put it to use. Heart monitors, speed monitors, and activity monitors—all can make walking a little more fun and give you a reason to get out the door. You can also turn your mobile device into a walking gadget with a walking app.


Do a Virtual Walk

Webwalking USA Map
Webwalking USA Map. Wendy Bumgardner ©

If you have a goal, you are more likely to put in the steps. There are apps such as Walk the Distance (for Apple devices) that track your walking as you complete segments of a chosen trail. Another option is WorldWalking which is free and available for Android.

Some activity monitors have similar virtual walk challenges. You can use the Webwalking USA tracking sheet to do it in an old-school way. Track your walking minutes, miles, or steps and color in the trail segments as you do a virtual walk from Atlantic to Pacific on the American Discovery Trail. Seeing the visible progress you make will keep you committed to walking.


Choose the Right Time

Morning Exercise
Morning Walk. Jordan Siemens/Taxi/Getty Images

What is the best time to walk? Many people find that if they commit to early morning walks, fewer distractions pop up in the afternoon or evening. But if you hate mornings and feel most energetic later in the day, then that should be your walking time. To stay motivated, analyze your habits and choose the time that works best for you.

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