How To: Start a walking group

Start a walking group

A daily, brisk 30-minute walk boosts brain power, helps control weight, and improves your overall health. And if you commit to doing it with friends, you're more likely to stick with it.

Step 1: Partner up
Start recruiting. Ask friends, colleagues, and neighbors if they'd like to form a walking group, and drum up interest by posting fliers in your library, retirement community, health club, or place of worship.

Step 2: Hold a meeting
Host a kickoff meeting in your home or at a public place, like a neighborhood park or coffee shop.

Step 3: Work out guidelines
Decide when, where, how long, and how often you'll walk together. Work out some guidelines, like whether or not you'll walk when it's raining, and whether members need to notify the group if they can't make it.

WARNING: Remind group members that if they are at risk for heart disease, stroke, or other chronic conditions, they should consult their doctor before beginning any kind of exercise routine.

Step 4: Set goals
Set group goals, such as increasing the amount of time you walk each week, or incorporating more difficult terrain, like hills. Sign everyone up for an online program like AARP's free "Get Fit on Route 66," which lets you take a virtual trip across America as you keep track of the miles you've walked.

Step 5: Encourage individual goals
Encourage members to set individual goals, like eating a healthier diet.

Step 6: Mix it up
Keep the group interesting by joining charity walk-a-thons or 5K races, organizing an all-day or weekend hike, or spinning off a dinner or book club.

Step 7: Keep members motivated
Help each other stay motivated by inviting local speakers to talk about fitness and healthy eating.

Step 8: Reward success!
Recognize group members who have lost weight or improved their health thanks to the walking group.

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