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10 Rules for Walking Partners

Learn How to Be a Good Walking Partner


Updated September 24, 2011

Walking Partners

Walking Buddies

Wendy Bumgardner ©
A reader writes that she had been looking for a walking partner for a long time. Now that she has one, she realizes they just aren't compatible. She wonders if there are any rules for being a good walking partner that she should know about before she "fires" her own. Here, I share my rules for being a good walking partner.

Wendy's Rules For Walking Partners

1. Don't Stand Up Your Partner: If you've agreed to a time and place to meet to walk, keep that date except in cases of true emergencies. Notify your walking partner of any no-shows as far in advance as you can. If your life is so chaotic that emergencies happen more often than not, you shouldn't schedule anything with a walking partner.

2. Be on Time: If you are always late, it may cut into your walking partner's day or shorten your walking time. If you are late once in awhile, call your walking partner before you are actually late to let her know you are still coming and your estimated arrival time.

3. Agree on Speed and Hills: Are you going to walk together and match pace? You will need to see if your speed is compatible. You may be good for each other in all other ways, but if your speeds are too different, you won't be able to actually walk together. If your partner hates hills and you love the challenge, discuss this and adjust your routes as needed.

4. Mind Your Conversation Topics: Keep your conversation on the same level as polite dinner conversation. Don't talk religion or politics until you are sure such topics are welcome. Don't unload all of your personal problems onto your walking partner. Don't assume she is happy to share all of the details of your problems with your spouse, money, or medical ills.

5. Share Important, Relevant Medical Information: If you have a chronic condition that might require medical attention while walking, let your walking partner know about it and any drugs you carry to counter it. Asthma, angina, epilepsy, diabetes, and allergic reactions to bee stings might require your walking partner to help you or call for medical help. You don't have to make this a common part of your conversation, but let your partner know up front if these problems might occur and what she should do.

6. Ask Before Bringing a Friend or Dog: Adding a dog adds complexity to walking with somebody else. Ask first. Give your walking partner warning if you are bringing somebody else along, too. This is the same courtesy as if you were showing up for dinner for two with a third person.

7. Agree on Stops: If you need a restroom every hour, let your walking partner know that this will be a recurring stop. If you like to stop at the coffee shop in the middle of the walk, discuss this.

8. Agree on MP3 Players or Silent Times: Some walking partners like to listen to music and walk together for safety and to maintain pace, but not for conversation. Others may want to limit their conversation when they are getting tired or tackling a hill. Discuss this in advance so your partner can bring her own MP3 player -- or not be hurt that you aren't talking to her.

9. Limit Phone Calls: Don't break off your conversation with your walking partner to take non-emergency phone calls while walking together. Imagine this is a family dinner and inform your usual callers that you won't be available during this time.

10. Don't Whine: If your feet hurt or you're uncomfortable because it is extraordinarily hot or cold outside, it's likely that your walking partner is feeling the same thing. Hearing about it, however, makes the miles go slower.

Quiz: Are You a Bad Walking Partner?: Take this quiz to see how you rate as a good walking partner.

Tell us About Your Worst Walking Partner

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