If you’ve ever been part of a book club you know how motivating a deadline can be (you might actually finish that Giller Prize winning novel!) The social aspect of a club is also a draw; you can regularly catch up with friends and have a real conversation about topics outside of work or household chores. Neighbourhood walking clubs work the same way—you can be motivated to stay fit by having partners who encourage and even challenge you to keep healthy and active.
Other than keeping your exercise schedule in check, walking clubs can also foster friendships, strengthen your community ties and provide a sense of safety if you are walking early mornings or late at night. So, how do you get one started? Think about a group of people that would work well together—your neighbours might be most obvious, but colleagues at work may want to get walking at lunch or maybe a group of friends would make the effort to meet a few times a week. With a pedometer and today’s technology (you can track each other’s steps on the computer) even members that travel can still keep their commitment.
Start by holding an introductory meeting where you can collect people’s email addresses and agree to when to walk, where to meet and how much distance everyone would like to cover. You might even have a back-up plan for bad weather (maybe there is an indoor track nearby).
You will also want to discuss various fitness levels. You might map out a shorter loop for beginners, which more ambitious walkers do twice. You should also want to set goals in regards to increasing distance, how often you meet and even aim to enter a charity walking event.
Finally, on weekends or on a bi-monthly basis you could choose walking routes outside the usual area. Travel to parks, local hiking routes or even have a spa or golf day somewhere you can incorporate your group exercise.
With a little creativity, your walking group will not only exercise your body but it can feed the soul as well.