Good Company: A Pleasurable Way To Get The Exercise We Need

A task that is disagreeable when done alone can become a joy when carried out in the company of others.

So, if regular exercise is disagreeable to you, consider starting (or joining) a walking group.

Group Benefits

Walking groups provide accountability, something we may need to keep ourselves moving, and the social aspect of group walking is, for some people, more motivating than a hoped for drop in A1C levels.

There is also safety in numbers. When ambling in a group we may feel more secure in the environment, and worry less about falling, or getting help for unexpected glucose lows. Group energy will also carry us along on days we feel tired, or down. When feeling good, our energy can uplift others.

Getting Started

It’s not too difficult to organize a walking group since walking is suitable for many fitness levels, and the only required equipment is a comfortable pair of shoes. To create a group:

  • Run the idea by family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
  • Advertise in church bulletins, or workplace newsletters.
  • Use social media accounts - Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin - to recruit walkers.
  • Consider utilizing Nextdoor (link below), the social media site that connects people within neighborhoods—letting us know what’s happening and available in our neck of the woods.

Your city or township may have a website that gives local groups an opportunity to advertise as well.

Logistics

Once walkers are recruited, set up a meeting to exchange email addresses, phone numbers, and to decide how the group will operate:

  • How often to walk; when and where.
  • How far to walk, and at what speed.
  • What to do when the weather is bad.
  • Guidelines for accommodating illness, vacations, and work conflicts.

If the group is large, dividing into smaller walking groups is an option, and one way to accommodate different schedules, or fitness levels. However, larger groups can be highly energizing and motivating, and are not easily decimated by schedule conflicts, or illness.

Keeping It Going

As with any group, flexibility, variety, recruitment, and regular communication will help it thrive. For instance, momentum can be maintained by:

  • Setting group challenges, such as increasing walking intensity, or distance.
  • Creating a walking group web page where interested folks can learn about the group, members can find announcements, and maybe share their walking experiences.
  • Engaging in walks that alternate five minutes at a brisk pace with five minutes at a slow to moderate pace.
  • Entering charitable walking events.
  • Occasionally inviting spouses, significant others, children, and grandchildren to walk, and then enjoying a picnic lunch together.

Also, consider giving the group a name, particularly if it will continue to be advertised on websites, or social media.

Whatever our group chooses to do, the real benefit and solidarity will come from the company we keep. Walking facilitates flowing conversation, and the connectedness we gain from that is every bit as good for our health as miles walked.

Sources: Mayo Clinic; Nextdoor
Photo credit: Allan Grey

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