12 walking and fitness motivation hacks to guarantee you get your steps

When life gets in the way, stay motivated to walk by creating fitness habits, planning ahead, and never forgetting why you want to get fit in the first place. Keeping up the motivation to walk every day isn’t always easy. The most active walkers take things into their own hands and create the strategies and active habits that make walking a breeze. Best of all, these motivational hacks take the work out of walking so you can turn your daily recommended activity time into your daily recommended fun. That’s right – burning calories and getting active should be fun if you do it right.

These 12 useful tips will help you stay motivated to hit your step goal and ensure that you get your steps every day. We’ll cover planning ahead, creating habits, working together and staying motivated solo!

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Walking and Fitness Motivation:

Motivation Boost: Plan Ahead

Senior couple preparing for a fitness walk
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1. Make a plan:

It can be hard to find time to walk if you haven’t scheduled it ahead of time. Planning out your schedule and setting aside time for walking will help you to commit and follow through. Take a rest day or weekend day to write down a schedule, making sure to highlight when you plan to walk. It’s very important that you actually schedule your walks, rather than just telling yourself you’ll walk when you have time.

At the end of the week, sit down and see how you did. It can be helpful to keep a journal to write down what you did when you hit (or didn’t hit) your personal step goal. You can always adjust the goal, or adjust the next week’s plan to overcome obstacles.

2. Start small:

Happy woman taking a short stroll in city
Lipik Stock Media / Shutterstock

If you are starting or restarting your step goals, don’t give yourself an impossible goal out of the gate. Starting small by committing to walking at least 5 out of 7 days per week. Gradually increase your steps over time, increasing your step goal by 1000 to 2000 steps as you reach each goal., like adding 2,000 to your goal. This will be more achievable and encourage you to keep going.

If you find yourself without anything to do during the day, get moving. Even if you find you unexpectedly have 5 minutes of free time in your day, take a walk! All of those short walks can really add up, and you’ll get up to the recommended 30 minutes of daily walking in no time.

3. Have a “plan b:”

There will be times that even the best plan needs to be adjusted. You may have planned for a beautiful walk in the park, only to find it’s pouring rain outside. Other times you may get called into a meeting, or have an urgent errand that makes it impossible for you to get your walk in.

Having a plan b (and plans c, d and e) already planned out can help you keep up your steps! Here are some useful walks to have planned out for just when you need them.

  • Location: Have go-to indoor and outdoor walking routes that you can swap out when necessary.
  •  Distance: Have shorter and longer walking routes ready in case your walking time is cut short, or you unexpectedly have more free time than you thought.
  • Time of day: Have a plan to walk in the morning, in the afternoon or at night so that you can shift your walk around if plans change.

Motivation Boost: Create a Habit

Taking the first step outside
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

4. Take the first step

If you’re having trouble following through on your walks, this tip is for you. Commit to taking the first step or first 1 minute of your walk on days you’ve scheduled walking. If you really still feel that you can’t make it, you can always turn around and head home. Make things as easy as possible to get that first step in. Set out your clothes, shoes, and any gear ahead of time and make sure your calendar is cleared.

You’ll find that just taking that first step is usually enough to motivate you to finish your entire walk. Knowing that it’s ok if you need to stop early can give you the confidence to give your daily walk a try.

5. Walk at the same time every day:

Woman tying shoes and getting ready to walk
bbernard / Shutterstock

While mixing up your walks can keep things fresh, building up a habit of walking at the same time every day can help make your walking automatic. Try out different times of day to see what works best for you. Morning walking is a great choice for almost anyone to find more time in the day, but others prefer walking after dinner or during lunchtime.

Walking at the same time every day also allows you to optimize your route, preparation, and gear. Your pre- and post-walk routine will become second nature, and you’ll know all of the interesting sights and things to do at the particular time you’re walking. It’s also easier to plan knowing that one time of day is always blocked out for walking.

6. Have a go-to walking route:

Having a go-to route to walk where you already know the distance, approximate walking time, and any features like hills makes it easier to just get out and go. You can always tweak your route by coming up with a few different paths to take and ways to cut your walk short or make it longer.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with a completely new route whenever you choose! It just means that when you’re not sure or don’t have time to think of where to walk, you have a route ready so that you can just start walking. Find your next go-to walking route near you using Pacer’s new Routes function.

Motivation Boost: Work Together

Walkers high fiving after exercising
dotshock / Shutterstock

7. Walk with a friend:

Whether it is on your lunch break or after dinner, having another person hold you accountable can really help when it comes to getting in those extra steps. If you don’t have a walking buddy yet, get a friend interested in walking and give the gift of health as well as motivation for yourself.

Set a regular time to walk together, even if it’s not every day. You can start by doing your regular routine, but meeting your friend as well one day a week. Scheduling that regular time gives you extra motivation to get those steps. If you’re a dog owner, your “best friend” also makes your best walking partner as well!

8. Use friendly competition:

Women celebrating finishing a race together
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Adding in some (friendly) competition can give you even more motivation to walk. You can get your office moving with a fun step challenge, for example. Perhaps the person with the most steps at the end of the week gets lunch from the person with the least. Or you can just track steps and encourage everyone to walk as much as possible.

While you can get very serious about the competition if you want to, you’ll probably have more fun if you keep it light and work together. If you notice someone is having trouble getting steps, offer to walk with them or give them tips on how to get more. You can also join a friendly competition on Pacer to motivate yourself to walk more!

9. Share your progress:

Sharing both your goal and your progress can give you positive feedback, and add accountability to your walking progress. One way to do this is to tell a friend how much you plan to walk, then let them know how you did at the end of every week. The mere act of having to tell them if you made it or not can make you want to walk more.

Occasionally posting your achievements for the day or week on social media can also gain you a lot of compliments and positive reinforcement. People on social media aren’t always so positive, but you can also use the Pacer Feed for a more positive experience.

Motivation Boost: Do it for You!

Walker stretching while listening to headphones
Goran Bogicevic / Shutterstock

10. Make it fun:

Walking isn’t just mindless, boring fitness. It’s really fun! If you’re not having much fun on your walks, you’re probably making a basic walking mistake. After your next walk, write down what you’re feeling as soon as you get home. Were you bored? Too tired? Lonely? Walking is so versatile that you can easily fix all of those things. Just walking with a friend and having a great chat, without even worrying about your steps, can be a great way to make your walks more fun.

What about when you are walking alone? Listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts or learn how to identify some of the passing birds, trees, or flowers, to help you pass the time. Consider mixing up your walking location and route – go window shopping, or take a walk in nature. There’s bound to be a way you can find more enjoyment in your walks.

11. Reward your victories:

Treat yourself to a gift
wutzkohphoto / Shutterstock

If you manage to hit your step goals, like going the entire month of hitting 10,000 steps on 5 days a week, reward yourself! This can be as simple as tickets to a new movie or a new piece of walking gear, or as indulgent as a spa visit or big-ticket item. The positive reinforcement will help motivate you to keep going.

Rewards don’t have to be monetary either. When you hit your steps, give yourself a mental high-five and take a minute to celebrate your success internally. At the end of a successful week or month, tell yourself how great you did. That internal motivation will keep you walking when monetary rewards no longer cut it.

12. Don’t give up!

Everyone hits a tough spell or plateau from time to time. Don’t give up! Not hitting your daily or weekly goal is not a reason to give up entirely. Even small amounts of walking can make a big difference, so just get as active as you can. If you’re consistently missing your goal, consider lowering your goal temporarily. Find a small win that can give you more motivation to keep going.

Most importantly, remember why you’re walking. It could be to get healthier, lose weight, or just chase around your kids or grandkids. If you keep plugging at it, you will reach that goal eventually. Use this knowledge to keep pushing yourself to succeed. Walking is one activity that you can do for your entire life, and you can make progress at any age or fitness level. If you don’t give up, you’ll get to where you want to be!

Final Thoughts

Whether you have been tracking your steps for a week or five years, it can sometimes feel overwhelming and difficult to achieve those daily goals. Changing things up and following the tips included here can make all the difference to you and your fitness goals. Give one or two a try, you may just end up jumping in and committing to the entire list!

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If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer now for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.

3 thoughts on “12 walking and fitness motivation hacks to guarantee you get your steps

  1. This may not be the correct place, but I have been using this app for awhile now. I still can not figure out how to leave comments for persons I follow without taking a photo of something first. Can someone let me know howe to do this, please.

    1. Hi CA! There’s a few ways to send messages. If you want to reply in a comment to a post someone has made, you can click the comment (…) button under the post. No need to post a photo! You can also send them a private message by clicking on their name to get to their Pacer profile, then clicking the … at the top right and then clicking “Send Message.” I hope this helps!

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