During a Walk

During the walk, encourage walkers to pay attention to proper form and to their surroundings. Some walkers may wish to keep track of their steps and increase their walk intensity. Consider ways to enhance the experience so that walkers stay engaged.

Multi-ethnic group of men wearing blue shirts, power walking on a pedestrian walkway, talking.

Use Proper Form

  • Keep the chin up and the shoulders slightly back and relaxed.
  • Look forward, not at the ground.
  • Keep the back straight, rather than arched forward or backward.
  • Let the heel of the foot touch the ground first, and then roll the weight forward.
  • Walk with toes pointed forward.
  • Swing the arms naturally.

Log Steps and Distances

  • Encourage the use of apps, pedometers, or other wearable devices to map distances walked and steps taken.
  • Members may wish to set walking goals after seeing how many steps are recommended for daily physical activity.

2 older couples walking outside wearing sweaters

Enjoy the Surroundings

  • During the walk, take time to enjoy the surroundings.
  • Encourage walkers to be mindful of what’s going on around them. Notice the sky, the people, the sounds.
  • If possible, meet at different parks or reserves, park the car, and enjoy the views while you walk.
  • Schedule breaks during the walk. If possible, plan breaks near benches or other places where it’s easy to sit down.
  • Consider stopping periodically to let the entire group reassemble and any stragglers catch up.
  • Vary your route. If you want to stick close to home and limit your walking to neighborhood streets, pick different routes so you don’t get tired of seeing the same sights.
  • Walk at various times of the day. The sights you see first thing in the morning are bound to be different from those of the afternoon.

group of older people hiking

Increase the Intensity

  • Those who can, should increase their speed to a brisk walk. Brisk walking means walking fast enough to raise your heart rate while still being able to speak and breathe easily. You may be puffing a little, but you shouldn’t be breathless. Those who are not able to walk briskly should walk at a slower pace.
  • Walk up hills.
  • Increase walking speed gradually by alternating between slower and faster-paced walking.
  • Walk quickly for a short period of time and then return to a slower pace.
  • Walk for longer periods of time.
  • Walk a longer distance.
  • Encourage walkers who want to, to wear a weighted vest or carry a weighted backpack.
  • Consider other types of walking such as Nordic walking (which uses walking poles) or power walking.

group of people listening to a nature guide

Enhance the Experience

  • Choose experts such as an arborist or nature guide to lead a walk. Have them give a short talk at the beginning and then provide commentary at points during the walk.
  • Depending on your route, invite an expert to help describe architectural and/or historical features along the way.
  • If budget allows, provide each walker with a wireless headset to hear the tour guide when walking further behind.
  • Make sure the guide stops periodically to let the entire group reassemble and any stragglers catch up.
  • Choose local celebrities or officials to kick off a walk, especially if marking a specific event (such as Go4Life Month).
  • Co-brand the walk a Go4Life Walk.
  • Have group singalongs of well-known tunes during the walk.
  • Incorporate a scavenger hunt into a walk.
  • Incorporate “geocaching” into a walk. Geocaching is a kind of treasure hunt involving use of an app to find things in nature during walks. Free, downloadable apps and information online can help you get started.
  • Schedule a poetry walk during which walkers read and discuss the poetry on placards placed along the walking trail. A poetry walk can sometimes be done in partnership with Parks and Recreation Departments or libraries. Poetry walks may be of special interest to those who need frequent walk breaks.
  • Schedule an art walk where works of art are displayed for observation and discussion along the way. An art walk can sometimes be done in partnership with Parks and Recreation groups or with cultural arts organizations.
  • Take the group by bus or carpool to different parks and sightseeing venues to add variety.