Night walking? Reflexology walking? Walking holidays? Nordic walking?
If you want to start a walking club or add depth, fun and interest to a current one, enjoy our ideas below that range from walking rewards to adding a bird-watching element. Your health, intelligence, fun and social satisfaction may improve even more.
Start a sister city walking club
Once your own walking club knows some good routes and is
established, hook up with a walking club from another city, small town,
or rural area. Then take turns hosting each other on occasional walking
tours every month or every other month or so.
Reward the walking group
After every 10 walks where the majority of the members show up,
go out for late breakfast or evening coffee/tea together afterwards.
Start a slow and fast walking club
I’m convinced that no matter what type of walking you prefer
(slow strolling, steady fast pace, power walking, hills, flat…) there’s
an expert who says that way is the best. Here’s yet another way to get good
benefits from your walking club that, of course, some experts endorse. Studies show
that by varying your speed, your body burns more calories and gets a
very good workout. Walk slow, then fast, then medium – otherwise
surprise your body and continue to vary the speed.
Take turns allowing a member to “lead” the group in when to go slow and when to speed up during your walking time. Slow/fast walking could also happen naturally if you combine naturalist and birding adventures with your walking club, seeing as though you’d naturally slow down here and there when something interesting was spotted, then speed up during the other portions of the walk.
Try interval walking
Interval walking is more intense (and burns more calories) than the type of slow/fast walking described above. You walk as "furiously" as you can to get yourself winded as soon as possible. Then just stroll (but don't stop) until you can do it all over again. Ways to walk instensively to get yourself winded quickly include walking uphill, speed-walking, power-walking, or walking on challenging terrain such as bumpy trails. It's a little more difficult to do as a group activity because everyone gets winded at different times. But it can work. Those who take longer to get winded can up the intensity individually by wearing weights when they walk, or lifting their knees higher or doing "boxing" while they walk along briskly with the others.
Walking the neighborhood
For those who want to start a walking club in their own
neighborhood, you can take turns all starting at different homes. Or, try this
method: One of you starts the walk by yourself and heads for the nearest
neighbor. That neighbor comes out and joins you, then the next neighbor
does the same, and so on. Continue until everyone’s home is passed, and
then back track all the way to the starting neighbor’s home, who then
has finished the walk. The rest continue on, dropping off one neighbor
at a time until everyone is back home, and the final walker finishes up
on his or her own.
Rotate the “starter” to make sure everyone takes turns walking in solitude as well as in a group. Any walker with a need to drive to a meeting place in order to take a shorter walk with the group is welcome. But every walker has the responsibility to watch the clock and look out the window so they come out on time and the walkers’ pace doesn’t have to slow. If walkers stretch before joining the group walk (highly recommended), it needs to be complete before the others arrive.
Keep bird-watching logs or naturalists’ journals
Every state has a regional if not local Audubon volunteer able to
give birding tours for free or low cost. See if one will join your
walking group once each season, or just have your walking group join
their tours, and then start keeping a log of all the resident and
migratory birds you see on your walks. Most states also have a
naturalists' organization with volunteers who can join you perhaps once a
season to point out the natural wonders around you as you walk.
Set a mileage goal
If your group always starts and finishes at the same place, and if there’s at least one pedometer in the group, set a group mileage goal for your club, such as 200 miles in a month as a group. Keep track of the distance the pedometer charts each time you meet, then times that distance by the number of walkers who joined in.
Walk in new places
If your group usually walks in your neighborhood, occasionally agree to drive to a new walking place every so often, perhaps once every other month. You may be surprised at how your own neighborhood looks new in subtle ways when you return from walking in a different place. Possibilities include along marinas, a gentle hiking trail, nearby small towns, park walking and hiking paths, a quiet country road, or at the mall. If finances and time allow, there are also incredible walking holidays and walking tourist vacations around the world.
Attend walking holidays
Take "walking in new places" even further, and search online for walking holidays, walking tours and guided walks in distant locations.
Join a charity walk or organize a charity walk or run of your own
Your walking group could either work towards building up endurance to the distance of a charity walk-a-thon, then enter that event together as a group activity. Or, you could organize a charity run – walk of your own.
Start a hill walking club
If your current club walks on flat ground, see if any others would like to break off and enjoy an occasional walk or hike in areas with more hills. Trainers say hills work more muscles and burn more calories.
Give your walking club a name and customize your group's own caps, T-shirts or sweatshirts
While some think it’s corny, others love this idea. (Some think
it’s corny and that’s WHY they love the idea). It gives the group more
of an identity and “oversoul.” And it helps motivate other walkers even
more by making them feel they belong to something. Walking club names
can be especially beneficial if you start a walking club that looks
unusual, such as Nordic walking or barefoot walking.
If you have t-shirts that say, “Nantucket Nordic Walking Club” or “Barefoot-in-the-Park Walkers Club,” they can help explain things to passersby. You can buy t-shirts, caps and sweatshirts with your own design through our Zazzle affiliate here, and when you do, each participant can order theirs online separately, or you can order bulk.
Walking club names often include the general location or theme of your club, such as the Sacramento Walking Sticks, the Easy Evening Walkers, the Stroll & Sprint Club, the Nordic Walking Nerds, the Strolling Seniors Walking Club, the Wayward Walkie Talkies, or the High Hills Hiking Club.
Add occasional barefoot walking to your walking club
There is a whole movement of people who believe going barefoot on the
earth has incredible healing abilities when the human sole connects
directly with the earth’s magnetic and energetic fields.
As well, reflexologists feel that humans were meant to walk barefoot and get daily natural reflexology… but just not on hard unnatural surfaces of our modern world. Rather, they feel that natural surfaces such as sand, soil and forest floors give a little as we step on them, with sand, soil and forest floor debris shifting beneath our step and filling into the arch, between the toes, and otherwise supporting our feet and stimulating the entire bottom of the foot. While I’ve seen one hard-core walker/runner who goes barefoot everywhere, even on hard surfaces with no problems, I’d be afraid to recommend that. Even with Nordic walking, which puts less pressure on your feet, I’d think softer natural surfaces would be better.
The challenge is finding an area with a large enough barefoot surface to walk far and fast enough to keep up your walking pace. Those near sandy or low-tide beaches, grassy parks with no bee attracting ground flowers, and fresh soft garden soil have the best opportunities. One possible hybrid is for your group to walk as usual with walking shoes, then end in a place that has at least some barefoot-friendly area as the wind-down/cool-down segment of your walk. Or, just occasionally drive your whole group to a beach as a walking club group activity.
Start a night walking club or occasionally take your current group to
a safe place at night with flashlights. See the Great Group Activities
article on backyard camping under the “Family Activities” hub. That
article tells about a kids’ book on stars and constellations. Regardless
of your age, the children’s book with its great visuals of the night
sky can make night walking even more fun.
Also, there are groups of people who walk and hike at night while they’re training themselves to re-ignite human’s lost ability to have vision in the darkness. Apparently (I’m no expert), our peripheral vision -- when used as the dominant way of seeing -- can eventually shift us into the ability to see very well at night. So they train themselves to walk and hike avoiding their central vision and using their peripheral vision. After a bit of time, night vision sets in.
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