Why you should walk with friends + how to get them into walking

Walking with a buddy makes your walks more fun and motivates you to get out and walk every day. If you’d like to help a friend get more active and healthier, there’s no better exercise than walking to get your friend their 30-minutes of daily recommended activity. You’ll get an accountability partner that helps you reach your step goals, while your friend will see improved heart health, stronger bones, and potentially weight lost. In addition to getting healthier, walking makes you feel happier which can help you feel a closer connection to friends and family.

Research shows that walking is an incredible physical activity that improves your overall health, strengthens your bones, and helps you lose weight. Not only will it make walking that more enjoyable, but it will give you an accountability partner that can help you reach your goals faster and strive for more.

Here are 6 reasons that walking with a buddy gives you extra motivation to get your steps, plus 10 ways to get your friend hooked on walking!

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Why find a walking buddy?

2 women fitness walking together in the snow
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Walking together with a friend (or friends) helps to pass the time, lets you share tips, and gives you extra motivation to get your steps.

Have more fun!

When you exercise with a friend, you’ll notice that the time flies as you’re able to talk and interact with someone instead of just walking by yourself. You should still maintain a brisk pace if possible, and make sure to maintain good walking posture. If you can’t find a buddy, listening to a podcast or an audiobook can be a walking companion. You won’t get the same kind of interaction that you would talking to a friend, or even walking your trusty dog!

Healthy habits are contagious

A study from the University College London (covered in the Telegraph) found that among couples, people were much more likely to exercise more, lose weight, or stop smoking if their partner was also engaged in those healthy activities. Having a walking buddy lets you share tips on getting more steps and gives someone for you to walk to about getting more active.

Lose More Weight

You’ll have more success losing weight through walking you do it together with a workout partner. Research has shown that people worked out harder and lost more weight when their workout partners did the same weight loss program and were successful in losing weight. Motivating your partner to exercise is good for your success as well! One of the key study findings was that people whose workout partners were not successful losing weight didn’t do as well. If you’re having trouble losing weight through walking, try getting a friend involved!

Get motivated

Joggers smiling while jogging in park
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Scheduling walks with friends or agreeing on a regular walking time is one of the best forms of motivation to get out and walk. If you can motivate yourself to start your walk, that’s usually enough to power you all the way to the finish. Adding some accountability to your walking schedule in the form of a friend waiting is a great way to do that.

Walk more safely

Walking together can make your walks safer and make you feel more secure. If you walk at night or the early morning, having a walking buddy can give you peace of mind. Having a buddy is important if you’re hiking or walking in a secluded area, just in case you get lost or injured. Knowing you have someone to turn too if anything happens will make your walk more enjoyable and more likely to get done. If you suffer from health conditions, your walking partner can help to recognize potential symptoms and give aid if necessary.

Enjoy a (mostly) free activity!

If you’re looking for an activity to do with friends or loved ones, walking is easy, essentially free, and you can do it anywhere. If you’re looking to get a friend into exercise, walking is great because they won’t need to pay for a trainer or buy special gear. As long as they have a serviceable pair of walking shoes, they’re good to go! No two walks are ever the same either. You can go window shopping, see sights at the local park, or explore an ever-changing urban landscape.

How to Get Your Friend to Start Walking

Men laughing and walking together for fitness
Dollydoll29 / Shutterstock

Walking is the most recommended form of cardio for a reason – almost anyone can do it! If you’re looking to get your friends or loved ones healthier, or just find an exercise buddy, take them for a walk. Walking doesn’t just benefit your physical health, but it also improves your mood and makes you feel great. Having positive experiences through walking can deepen your friendships and provide a meaningful way to spend time with loved ones as well. Here are some ways to encourage your friends to join you.

Start a walking group

A great way to rally the troops and get them part of your walking workout is to start a walking group. Set up a specific time each week to meet, and invite a variety of people to ensure that your group always has people walking – even if you can’t make it. Not only will your friends feel included, but you will have the added benefit that you can share your goals with multiple people.

Get active on your lunch break

Another ideal way to get in those steps is to inspire a co-worker and incorporate a walk during your lunch break. It doesn’t have to be complicated either. You can go for a quick walk outside, or even do a few laps through your office halls. Since you and your buddy are probably both into getting healthier, you can look into lower-calorie lunch options and share tips on staying fit in the office.

Walk for charity

Grabbing a friend and joining a charity walk is the perfect way to incorporate walking into your exercise routine while doing an excellent deed for someone else. Walking for a cause will encourage your friends to join and you’ll all feel great getting healthier and doing good. This can strengthen friendship bonds and help you build new ones as well. If you’re struggling with finding a walking buddy at the office, walking for charity gives you an excuse to meet new people to get active with.

How to Bring a New Walker Along

Walkers high fiving after exercising
dotshock / Shutterstock

Keep it slow

If your friend is new to fitness walking, they may not have the walking speed or stamina that you do. If you usually walk at a 6/10 intensity, cut that in half to a 3/10 intensity. Even if your friend has no problem keeping up initially, they may get tired faster than you do. Keep your walks slow and fun until your friend gets the hand of fitness walking.

Keep it simple

Try to stick to flat, easy terrain without hills or stairs that can make your walk very intense. While you may be focused on walking to burn calories, your friend is more likely to stick with walking if you make the walks fun – at least until they’re used to fitness walking.

Keep it short

Since you probably don’t know your friend’s stamina level, stick to short walks at the beginning. Look for routes or walking locations where you can easily break off your walk early or stop and take a break, like a mall or shopping center.

Keep aware

Try to keep aware of your friend’s energy level and how difficult they’re finding the walk. Your friend may feel embarrassed to have to ask to take a break or slow down, so if it looks like your friend is really breathing heavy then suggest taking a break yourself. Keep the walks fun and interesting and your friend will get hooked on walking just like you are. Once they get there, you may find that it’s your friend who challenges you to a brisk, intense fitness walk.

How to Make Walking More Interesting

Happy women walking together in park
Riccardo Piccinini / Shutterstock

Walking may be one of the easiest ways to get your exercise in. Not only can it be tailored to your physical activity level, but it can be done almost anywhere and at any time. However, some people may not know the right way to start or may think that walking is a tedious exercise. With these simple suggestions, not only can you get anyone to start walking with you, but you both will end up reaping the endless walking benefits while having a great time.

Focus on the fun part

When first introducing walking as an exercise, incorporate walking into a fun day out instead of focusing on the exercise part. Instead of going for a 30-minute walking workout try to arrange for a walking excursion with a different goal in mind. It could be walking with your friend to grab a coffee or checking out the local sights. Not only will the activity still help you get in your steps, but it will be a great way to show friends and family how fun walking is and getting them into a walking routine.

Challenge yourself

Having a walking partner is a great way to incorporate variety into your exercises and also push you and your partner to new limits. Finding a walking partner who is already at a similar fitness level as yourself can make you step out of your comfort zone and ramp up the intensity and speed. Your walking partner can challenge you to hit ambitious new goals, and gives a level of excitement and competition to your walking workouts.

Record your progress together

Setting goals together and tracking your combined progress is a great way to keep you both motivated. Share your steps with each other, and help to motivate your partner or give suggestions if they’re struggling. It will not only show how far you both have come, but it can also track how your health’s improved and recognize both of your achievements. Walking doesn’t need to be a race or a match where one person has to win. Instead, focus on improving together and achieving your fitness goals.

Get Pacer

If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer 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.

Sources:

Exercise with a friend. (ND). Better Health Channel. Victoria State Government.

Get Motivated: The Workout You Won’t Cancel. (2014). Healthy Living. Healthy Women.

Start a Walking Group. (ND). AARP. 

American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. (2018). American Heart Association.

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