8 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Take a Daily Walk
Set things in motion with these simple tips.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health, but that doesn't mean you have to hit the gym to see the benefits of moving your body. Experts say that walking—especially moderate intensity walking—has been linked with a wide range of benefits, including lower incidence of chronic illness, healthier body weights, higher energy levels, improved mood, and a stronger immune system.
Yet despite the many benefits of walking, many people can't muster the desire to get moving. The good news? Experts say there are a few key ways to motivate yourself to take a daily walk. Read on to find out which eight motivational tips will have you putting one foot in front of the other—and reaping the benefits—in no time flat.
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Go on a photo safari.
Turning your walk into a "photo safari" is an excellent way to get motivated to walk, says Mike Julom, ACE-CPT, a certified personal trainer, CrossFit athlete, and founder of the website ThisIsWhyImFit.com.
"In our digitally-driven age, many people already enjoy capturing unique or beautiful moments with their phones or cameras," he tells Best Life. "By committing to taking at least one interesting photograph during each walk, people are likely to become more observant and mindful of their surroundings. This practice nurtures creativity and curiosity while simultaneously encouraging consistent physical activity," he says.
Julom adds that taking time to seek out something worth photographing each day can also foster a sense of appreciation for the beauty in everyday environments. The New York Times refers to these as "awe walks," and says that they are linked to greater levels of happiness and physical health.
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Become a nature expert.
Walking in nature is known to have an additional set of benefits, compared to walking in urban environments. In fact, Yale School of the Environment notes that "a growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing."
Julom says that by leaning into exploring natural environments and even learning about local flora and fauna, you can turn your daily walks into a learning journey. "This practice also encourages individuals to explore new routes and regions to diversify their discoveries, which adds variety to their walking routine and makes it more exciting," Julom adds.
Not sure where to begin? Consider downloading plant and bird identification apps on your phone, which can help connect you to your surroundings.
Choose your timing carefully.
Another way to motivate yourself to take a daily walk is to choose an ideal time of day for it. Cara Ponticello, a personal trainer at Fountaingate Gardens Independent Living Community, suggests going during the morning or evening after dinner, when it tends to be cooler and quieter out.
While it's a great idea to pick a time that's pleasant for walking, it's also a good idea to pick a time that will enable you to create a sustainable daily habit. For instance, if your lunch break consistently works for you, schedule your walk for then.
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Treat yourself to new gear.
When it comes to exercise, there's nothing wrong with a bit of good old fashioned self-bribery, experts say. Ponticello recommends occasionally treating yourself to some new walking gear that you'll be excited to put on at the start of your daily stroll.
"A good pair of supportive shoes or some fun athletic wear will help keep you comfortable and keep you going, as will a hands-free bag to hold your keys and phone," says Ponticello.
Find a walking buddy or walking group.
Many people enjoy the solitude of walking alone, but others will find it more motivating to walk with a friend or walking group. "Having a friend alongside you not only makes walking a breeze, but holds you accountable to your routine," says Ponticello.
Ronny Garcia, CPT, a trainer with Blink Fitness, agrees that walking with friends can make your routine much more enjoyable. "Imagine all the chatting you can do! And on those days when you are thinking about skipping the walk, you have the extra incentive to go so you don't let down your friends," he tells Best Life.
Walk for charity.
Sometimes it's hard to get motivated when your walk only affects you. That's why Julom recommends doing "charity walks," which help you walk for the greater good.
The trainer says you won't necessarily need to find a major event to partake in. "Some apps, such as Charity Miles, offer a service that counts the number of steps you walk and converts it into a donation to a charity of your choice," he says. "This provides a noble purpose to daily walks as it ties physical activity to social contribution. Walking suddenly becomes more than a personal health benefit."
Set a tangible goal and track your progress.
Paying attention to your step count is another way to provide your walk with a sense of purpose and motivation. "Set a goal for a certain number of steps, or distance you would like to walk each day," recommends Garcia.
While many people ultimately aim for 10,000 steps per day—a number widely associated with major health benefits—Garcia says it's ok to start small. "Aim for one mile each day and then gradually build on your miles as you build endurance and enjoyment for the daily walk. Monitoring your progress, similar to setting a goal, can be motivating and rewarding," he advises.
Listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music.
If you do plan to take your walks solo, Garcia recommends finding a fun activity you can become engrossed in to pass the time more easily. A podcast, audiobook, or music are all good options. "I am not much of a physical reader, but have found that I like to listen to books while I walk and have rediscovered the joy of reading!" he says.
You may find even more luck with this motivational method if you only listen to that particular book, podcast, or playlist while taking your daily walk. By bundling your walk with something you can only enjoy while walking, you'll be more likely to hit the open road on foot.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.