Exercise doesn’t need to be complicated – walking is one of the easiest ways to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine. Walking gets you outside the house and into the fresh air and sunshine, plus it provides many other health benefits. For example, a daily walk can help you:
- Lose a few extra pounds
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mood
- Improve your balance and coordination
If you think walking is boring, think again. Here are 22 ways to add some excitement to your walk. You never know, your daily walk could become your favorite part of the day!
Listen to music
While listening to the sounds of nature can be lovely, you might be walking in a more noisy urban area. If this is the case, try listening to some music. Pump up the tunes to encourage you to walk faster and swing your arms to the beat, or choose a relaxing soundtrack for a meditative walk. Research shows that meditative walking can combat depression and even help fight high cholesterol.
Go with friends
Start a walking club to have friends to walk with, or if no one is available in your area, call a friend and have a catch-up while you walk. You’ll be surprised by how fast those miles fly by when you’re enjoying a great conversation.
Go by yourself
On the other hand, if you usually walk in a group, try a few solo walks to take some time to yourself. Taking a walk is a great time to think or just tune out and disconnect for a while.
Bring a pet
Bring your dog, or even your cat – some like to be walked on a leash! You could even borrow a pet from a friend who works during the day, or volunteer to walk the dogs from a local shelter. Having a pet along to entertain you can make your walk much more fun.
Have a walking meeting
There is nothing like working in a little more productivity by multitasking. Do you have a 30-minute meeting at work? Have a walking meeting instead. Steve Jobs was known for doing this, and studies show it can help prevent the side effects of a sedentary workday.
Measure your progress
Get a step counter or use an app to map your routes and keep track of your speed. You’ll be surprised how much more motivated you feel when you measure your progress. One study found that diabetic patients were more likely to exercise when they used a step counter.
Try nature spotting
Do some research about local birds, or bring along a friend who knows about medicinal plants. You could even collect flowers and put them in a flower press. See how many different types you can find. Your walk will suddenly become much more interesting!
Learn something while you walk
Why not use a podcast or app to learn a new language, or discover a topic you’ve always been interested in? Research shows that continued learning can help keep your brain healthy as you age.
Make walking a family ritual
Whether it’s a walk first thing in the morning or a leisurely stroll after dinner, you and your family or spouse will look forward to your daily walking ritual. Take the time to enjoy some time together and catch up on each other’s days.
Train for an event
Choose an event either for sport or for charity, then choose a pace goal to aim for. Aim for a 15-minute mile to get more health benefits.
Change up your route
If you always walk the same route, try mapping out a new approach, or just start walking in a different direction than usual. Figuring out your way could be good for your brain – but bring your smartphone in case you do get lost.
Check out a different neighborhood
Besides walking in a different direction, you could also get in the car and drive to a new neighborhood. Research has found that neighborhoods with well-maintained pavements and safe, well-lit walking areas encourage walking more than neighborhoods that don’t. So find a nice neighborhood in your area, and enjoy spotting the prettiest houses and gardens.
Bring a snack or picnic
Why not reward yourself as part of your walk? Bring a picnic along and enjoy some refreshments in a nice location before you head back home.
Add in exercises
If you want to up the ante on your daily walk, try adding in a few stints of simple exercises, like planks or lunges. Some neighborhoods even have an ‘exercise trail’ with equipment you can use to get a workout in as you walk.
Do a scavenger hunt
Have a friend create a list of things to look out for during your walk. Enjoy a sense of childish curiosity as you open your eyes to your surroundings instead of just breezing by them.
Play a game
If you’re walking with children, try playing walking games. These can be similar to the games you would play in the car, such as I Spy, or you can also include active games such as Follow the Leader or throwing a ball or frisbee back and forth as you walk.
Enjoy a story
Use an audiobook app or go to the library to get a book on tape. Who knew reading could be such good exercise!
Have a laugh
If you need some comic relief, skip the audiobooks and try listening to a comedy podcast or radio show while you walk. Your smiling face will brighten the day of other walkers who pass by!
Set a destination
Why not set a destination for your walk and become a regular at a local establishment like a pub or cafe? You’ll enjoy establishing a relationship with the staff. Bonus points if you bring a reusable cup.
Instead of strolling at the same pace for your whole walk, try introducing some intervals where you push yourself to walk faster. Try alternating between 3 minutes on, 5 minutes off. Your heart rate will enjoy a healthy boost each time you start a speed interval, and you’ll get a much better workout. Over time, this type of walking could improve your cardiovascular health.
Have a creative break
Make your walk an opportunity for creativity. Bring along a sketch pad or notebook and try drawing some flowers you’ve spotted, or write a haiku poem.
Do an entertainment walk
Instead of walking around your neighborhood, walk around a zoo, an art gallery, or a shopping center. You can enjoy the sights and tick off your daily exercise, all in one!
With so many creative additions to your daily walk, you’ll never run out of ideas to make this simple form of exercise the highlight of your routine.
-The UpWellness Team