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Top 10 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Walk


Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

You want to walk, but how do you get yourself out the door or onto the treadmill? That's the toughest challenge most of us face. I am a natural couch potato, so I face it everyday. Here is how this couch potato has turned herself into a marathon walker.

1. Register for a Challenging Walking Event

Portland Marathon Finisher Awards 2004
Wendy Bumgardner ©
This is how I do it: I register for a half marathon or an Avon Walk for Breast Cancer or an International Marching League Walk that will be a real challenge for me. Then, I have no reason but to train. Otherwise, I know the suffering and failure I will endure at the event. You can look for US events state by state with my Walk Finder or browse our links to international walks. More: Walking Events

2. Join Our Walk of Life 10-Week Program

Walk of Life
Wendy Bumgardner ©
Need somebody to remind you to walk everyday, give you a walking assignment, walking lessons, and a healthy recipe? I can do that for you! Join my free Walk of Life 10-Week Program. You can either follow each day from the web site whenever you wish to begin, or wait for one of our newsletter versions to start.
Walk of Life 10-Week Program

3. Wear a Pedometer

Yamax Digiwalker
Wendy Bumgardner ©
Medical studies show that wearing a silly little pedometer pays off big for increasing your activity and shedding unwanted pounds. The Centers for Disease Control think they may be the answer to the growing U.S. waistline. Set your step goal at 6,000 - 10,000 per day, and find ways to add steps to your day.
10 Ways to Motivate Yourself with a Pedometer

4. Make a Walking Buddy

Women Walking with Water Bottles in Hand
© Terry Vine / Brand X Pictures / Getty
I've gone out walking in a downpour just because I had a date with my walking buddies. We keep each other moving regardless of the weather or other excuses. The conversation, jokes, and coffee afterwards are great ways to make walking fun.
How to Find Walking Friends

5. Keep a Walking Journal

Walking Journal
Wendy Bumgardner (c) 2005
Track your walking minutes, steps, or mileage in a journal, whether on paper, an app or your computer. Total your progress each week. Set a goal and you will find yourself out walking just to make those numbers add up. I have printable and online logs and trackers.
How to Track Your Walks

6. Join a Walking Club

Portland to Coast Team
Wendy Bumgardner ©
Since 1984, I have been walking with the walking clubs of IVV/AVA, the world's largest organization of walking clubs. The mission of the IVV is simply to get everybody out walking. They welcome everyone to their events regardless of whether they are club members. But for even more fun and motivation -- join.
How to Find a Walking Club

7. New Shoes and Walking Clothes

ABEO AERO Armus Walking Shoes
Wendy Bumgardner © 2013
When you have new walking shoes or new walking clothes, you are the opposite of all dressed up with nowhere to go. Get out and try them out! Hate to walk in the cold? Buy the right layered clothing and you'll have to take it for a walk. Hate the rain? A waterproof jacket or umbrella can give you an urge to dodge the puddles. Does hot weather make you wilt? Wear sweat-wicking clothes, a great hat, and a neck cooler for staying cool on hot walks. Naturally, new shoes always nag you to take them for a walk.

8. Walking Gadgets and Apps

Walking Apps
Wendy Bumgardner © 2013
Like pedometers, any walking gadget can get you moving because you want to put it to use. Heart monitors, speed monitors, wristband activity monitors -- all can make walking a little more fun and give you a reason to get out the door. You can also turn your mobile device into a walking gadget with a walking app.

9. Do a Virtual Walk Across America

Webwalking USA
Track your walking minutes, miles, or steps and color in the trail segments as you do a virtual walk from Atlantic to Pacific on the American Discovery Trail. Seeing the visible progress you make will keep you committed to walking.
Webwalking USA

10. Choose the Right Time

iPod nano Stopwatch Screen
Wendy Bumgardner © 2009
What is the best time to walk? Many people find that if they commit to early morning walks, fewer distractions pop up in the afternoon or evening. But if you hate mornings and feel most energetic later in the day -- that should be your walking time. To stay motivated, analyze your habits and choose the time that works best for you.
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