Walking is a relatively effortless way to maintain a good level of fitness, keep your weight under control, and boost your mental health.
But some people struggle to find the motivation to “get their steps in.” With that in mind, this article runs through a range of different ways to make walking fun.
I LOVE walking, but that wasn’t always the case. It took a bit of time to turn it into a habit. Now it’s something I quite literally crave and miss when I don’t have time to do it. I highly recommend taking a look at The Power of Habit if you want to make that mind-shift. Once you do, there’s no turning back.
The Benefits of Walking
Walking may not instinctively seem as beneficial as running, or as a hard session in the gym, but it is extremely good for your mind and body. Furthermore, all of the benefits of walking are magnified the more briskly and more regularly you walk.
Over recent years, I’ve put a lot of effort into weight loss. I’m very conscious of what I eat, how much I exercise, and how it impacts my weight. Walking regularly and not doing any other exercise is enough to keep my weight under control (although it probably helps that I don’t drink alcohol any more!) If I go for a period without walking, the weight comes back.
I think it’s important to be realistic. This is a wellbeing blog, NOT a fitness blog. I’m never going to be a regular at the gym – it just doesn’t appeal to me, and I know it doesn’t appeal to lots of other people. Making walking fun, and doing it regularly, is a good compromise between being a gym bunny and couch potato.
The benefits of walking are many, they include:
- Better cardiovascular fitness.
- More energy.
- A stronger immune system.
- Reduced stress.
- Improved mood.
- Weight control / weight loss.
- Reduced fat.
- Stronger muscles and bones.
- Better sleep.
- Improved endurance.
That’s a whole lot of “what’s not to like?” right there – and all you have to do to start benefitting from it is to step outside your front door and get going.
But that’s where many people get stuck. The key to making sure you do it is learning how to make walking fun. That’s what the rest of this article is all about.
11 Ways to Make Walking Fun
1. Track Your Steps – Or Don’t!
These days, there’s a lot of focus on “getting your steps in,” and mentions of a rather arbitrary 10,000 steps per day.
Some people enjoy gamifying their step count, buying FitBits or simply using the built in step counter on a smartphone.
When I first began walking regularly, I was very hung up on my number of steps. Sometimes the target of a certain number of steps spurred me on, especially when I was doing Weight Watchers or Slimming World, and my step count played a role in the regime.
But recently I’ve stopped being fixated on steps. Sometimes I glance at how many I’ve done out of interest (especially if I’m away on holiday and know I’ve done loads!) The rest of the time, I’m not too concerned.
The thing with step counting is that it can become a rod for your own back. If life gets in the way and you don’t hit your target, you feel that you’ve failed, get demotivated, and end up walking less instead of more. It doesn’t make walking fun. It’s better to just get out there when you can, and enjoy it.
Step counting is entirely up to you. It may work for you, and it may not. It may work for you at certain times, but not at others. If it makes walking fun, then do it – if it doesn’t, STOP doing it!
2. Invest in Good Earphones
Many ways to make walking enjoyable involve having something to listen to – and we move on to several of them in a moment.
In order to enjoy them to the full, you need good earphones. Investing in some also makes you more inclined to get out there and get your steps in.
It took me a long time to finally splash out on decent earphones. The price tag on items like Apple AirPods always seemed a bit extreme to me, especially as I grew up in a time when decent wired Sony earphones cost about £10($14)!
But I only wish I’d splashed out sooner. Earphone technology has come so far, and they not only sound incredible, they’re also very functional, with microphones that work staggeringly well for voice calls on the move.
- Apple’s AirPods Pro.
- Sennheiser Momentum BlueTooth headphones. (I also own some like these, and like the headband-based design – perfect for people nervous about losing individual earbuds by leaving them on a shop counter!)
3. Let The Music Play
You’ve got the fancy earphones, so it’s time to make use of them.
Going out walking gives you an opportunity to listen to, and truly enjoy, good music. You also get to enjoy it at the kind of volume that’s probably off-limits if you have neighbours!
I’ve broadened my musical horizons so much by listening to music while out walking. Sometimes I might go for something I know well, but I’m just as likely to dig into something totally new: a Spotify playlist, a recommendation from a friend, or something I’ve read about in a newspaper. On occasion, I’ll switch it up completely by diving into an unfamiliar genre.
Today, I opted for Michael Jackson’s “Invincible” album, one that passed me by at the time it came out. Yes, if you go out walking, you create time to listen to a whole album, like we all used to in “the olden days!”
Music makes walking fun – but there are plenty of other ways to make use of the earphones if it’s not your thing.
4. Find Some Podcasts You Love
There are over 48 million podcast episodes out there, on every imaginable topic. As such, it’s incredibly unlikely that you won’t find something to interest you.
Listening to a podcast you enjoy is a surefire way to get your steps in and barely notice that you’re exercising. It’s easy to keep walking if you’re keen to hear the next ten minutes.
If you’ve not yet ventured into the world of podcasts, it’s time to see what the fuss is all about. If you already have shows that you enjoy, you already have a way to make walking more fun.
5. Enjoy Some Audiobooks
So many people complain that they never have time to read. By “killing two birds with one stone” and listening to books at the same time as walking, you can consume loads of books every year.
The average audiobook lasts about 10 hours, so you can get through one in a couple of weeks of walking. Suddenly you can go from reading no books at all to getting through 20 or more every year.
Whether you choose escapist fiction, biographies or educational topics, your walking time can also serve as “reading” time. On so many occasions, I’ve ended up getting more steps in because I’ve wanted to hear the next chapter.
6. Try Blinkist
If you don’t have the patience for full books, or prefer to consume lots of information in bite-sized chunks, it’s well worth taking a look at Blinkist.
It’s an app that condenses non-fiction books, such as those on business and self-help topics, into digestible “blinks” that you can either read or have read to you in audiobook style.
It only takes about 10 minutes to listen to a summary of a full book – so you can learn the key messages from several books during ONE WALK!
I love Blinkist. It’s very much in tune with my continual quest for self improvement, and my impatience!
7. Have an ACTUAL CONVERSATION
It often feels like old-fashioned phone calls are going out of fashion, but nothing makes a walk go by faster than having an absorbing conversation.
I often call my mum when I’m walking, and an hour (and around 8000) steps goes by before I know it. Also, like listening to audiobooks, it’s the kind of thing where you’ll end up going around the block a couple more times (and doing more steps) to continue the conversation.
If you want to have fun walking, it’s obviously best to speak to a friend or family member. However, you can also make the most of a walk by dealing with a business call. Good earphones (as mentioned above) really help, as it’s much easier than walking holding a phone to your ear.
8. Learn About Your Local Area
I never thought I’d enjoy pacing the same streets over and over again, but during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, I was left with little option!
Instead of being bored by it, I learned to enjoy it. By being present and inquisitive, you can always find something to spark your interest: How different things look as the seasons change; How new buildings evolve; Which homes put their Christmas lights up first; How little alleyways connect different streets together.
I live in a relatively small town, and still make new discoveries – roads I’ve not walked on before, houses I’ve not noticed, and even little playgrounds where I can take the children.
Walking the same streets repeatedly isn’t boring if your mindset is right – it’s genuinely interesting.
9. Mix It Up and Walk Somewhere Different
Of course, from time to time, it’s fun to switch things up.
One of my favourite things is to explore a new city or an unfamiliar beach resort – on foot. It’s one of my main activities on any holiday or mini-break. It’s not unusual for me to clock up 20,000 or more steps in a day, enjoying every minute (especially if I’m getting a sun tan at the same time).
But it’s not essential to go on holiday to do this. Another option is to head somewhere different to start and end your walk.
I have an electric bike, and often go several miles from home before locking the bike up and starting from somewhere new. I then have completely new areas to explore. You can do the same by car, by bus or by train. I once took a train to outer London, and walked about 10 miles to my favourite burger restaurant!
If you reach a point where there’s no walking that inspires you near home, just start from a different place.
10. Find Some Walking Companions
I personally enjoy walking as a solo activity. I’m an introvert and an INFJ, and enjoy my own company.
But it’s not for everyone. Some people make walking more fun by doing it with others. You may have some friends nearby who’d be happy to walk with you, but if not there are plenty of walking groups and clubs around.
11. Give Your Walk a Point
Anything that gives you a reason to get out there and get your steps in is a good thing. If a walk has a destination or an objective, it can provide some extra encouragement.
Sometimes, for me, that encouragement is nothing more than an iced latte on a warm day. Near where I live, there’s a house that sells plants by the front door, and I headed in that direction recently to see if they had a pot of thyme for a recipe.
This evening, I have a parent’s evening to attend – the nursery is 30 minutes away by foot, so that’s an hour of walking – with a point! Now I just have to decide whether to explore a new album, a podcast or a book while I do it, or if I should have a good chat with somebody on the phone. It also means I won’t feel bad about a few extra snacks later. Those are all benefits you don’t get if you drive!
So there you have it – 11 ways to make walking fun. I should reemphasise that I haven’t always been such a fan of walking. But once it becomes a habit, you genuinely come to enjoy it. Get out there and get your steps in!