Follow these 8 tips to help you begin a walking club.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Want to press the reset button on your fitness routine? It all starts with a single step, and one of the easiest and most convenient forms of exercise is walking. It can be even more fun when you’re exercising with friends, so now could be a great time to start a walking club.
There are lots of online resources to help you begin your own club or join an existing one. We’ve culled out our favorite tips to help you get started. But before we begin, always remember that before you start any new exercise program, it’s best to check in with your medical professional.
Here are eight tips to help you start your walking club:
- Determine what kind of club you want. The American Heart Association recommends that the ideal walking club consists of five to 15 members, but you can always determine what you think works best. Figure out how often you want to meet and how long and fast you want to walk. Set expectations upfront so people know what to expect and can match their abilities and interest.
- Recruit members. Call your friends, use social media and even put up fliers in your neighborhood to get new members interested, suggest Diana Nyad and Bonnie Stoll who run EverWalk Nation, a nonprofit group that encourages walking. Ask your friends if they know other friends or co-workers who might want to join. AARP suggests going to your local community center, YMCA or senior center to see whether there is interest in a new walking group.
- Find a starting location that is convenient and a time that works for most people in your group. If you meet at the same time and place, people won’t get confused and can plan ahead. This is so important that the international walking group Move It Monday even has its meeting day in the name of its organization so no one can forget when they meet.
- Determine rules for the group. AARP recommends that you decide ahead of time if the group will meet when it rains or snows. AARP also recommends that the group decides ahead of time whether members are obligated to let a leader know if they are attending or not attending each meeting.
- Set group goals. AARP recommends that you set goals ahead of time like increasing the distance and/or speed you walk incrementally. Make sure your group agrees to the goals. Revaluate them as it makes sense for your group.
- After you’ve mastered one location, find a new one. Changing the location can create new adventures for your group, Nyad and Stoll say. Be sure to clearly communicate any location changes well in advance and provide directions to the new meeting place.
- Spend your time walking instead of organizing. Use online resources to coordinate the group. There are lots of options, including going through an existing service like Meetup.com, a private Facebook group or set up your own Yahoo group.
- Get walking! There’s no time like the present to get started, so why not make a plan to get your walking club started today. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will be able to start seeing those great health benefits.
And if you’d rather join an existing walking club, rather than create your own, there are plenty to choose from around the country. Start by checking the websites of the American Heart Association, Move It Monday, AARP or EverWalk for groups in your area. There’s nothing like regular exercise to help you put your best foot forward on the journey to better health, and walking is an easy and convenient way to get started.
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