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. But you can learn ways to motivate yourself and get 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.

1

Register for a Challenging Walking Event

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'll be naturally motivated 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.

Find a walker-friendly event that will give you the right motivation, such as one connected to a charity that you want to support.

2

Set Up a Walking Plan

Design and follow a walking plan 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.

Try incorporating interval walks, hills, and maybe even some jogging into your weekly routine.

3

Wear a Fitness Tracker

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.

4

Make a Walking Buddy

Walking with 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 groups, walking clubs, and ​local fitness clubs.

5

Keep a Walking Journal

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.

6

Join a Walking Club

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. American Volkssporting Association, or AVA, has a nationwide, grassroots network of hundreds of clubs. You can also find walking clubs organized by health organizations, fitness clubs, schools, churches, and local parks and recreation organizations.

7

Buy New Shoes and Walking Clothes

When you have new walking shoes or new walking clothes, you may be motivated to 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 are always an excellent motivator for going on a walk.

8

Try Fitness Trackers and Apps

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

9

Do a Virtual Walk

If you have a goal, you are more likely to put in the steps. There are apps such as Walk the Distance or WorldWalking that track your walking as you complete segments of a chosen trail. These offer social elements that provide a supportive community to keep you focused on your goal. Complete a virtual walk on the Appalachian Trail or Camino de Santiago.

10

Choose the Right Time

What is the best time to walk? To stay motivated, analyze your habits and choose the time that works best for you.

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.

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidenceCMAJ. 2006;174(6):801–809. doi:10.1503/cmaj.051351

  2. Warren KR, Ball MP, Feldman S, Liu F, McMahon RP, Kelly DL. Exercise program adherence using a 5-kilometer (5K) event as an achievable goal in people with schizophreniaBiol Res Nurs. 2011;13(4):383–390. doi:10.1177/1099800410393272

  3. Sullivan AN, Lachman ME. Behavior Change with Fitness Technology in Sedentary Adults: A Review of the Evidence for Increasing Physical ActivityFront Public Health. 2017;4:289. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2016.00289

  4. Schulz AJ, Israel BA, Mentz GB, et al. Effectiveness of a walking group intervention to promote physical activity and cardiovascular health in predominantly non-Hispanic black and Hispanic urban neighborhoods: findings from the walk your heart to health interventionHealth Educ Behav. 2015;42(3):380–392. doi:10.1177/1090198114560015

  5. De sousa J, Cheatham C, Wittbrodt M. The effects of a moisture-wicking fabric shirt on the physiological and perceptual responses during acute exercise in the heat. Appl Ergon. 2014;45(6):1447-53.

  6. Gardner B, Lally P, Wardle J. Making health habitual: the psychology of 'habit-formation' and general practiceBr J Gen Pract. 2012;62(605):664–666. doi:10.3399/bjgp12X659466

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.