The simplest thing really can change our lives. Walking is free. It’s easy to do. It makes us feel better—way better! Walking gives us time to spend with our friends and catch up on all the latest news. It increases our mental well-being and focus. It helps control body weight and reduce body fat. Walking reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, reduces high cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, increases bone density, improves osteoarthritis, and reduces risk of colon cancer.
So what are you waiting for—take a walk on the wild side! Here are my tips for starting your own walking group:
1. Are two enough? Are six too many? Sometimes more is not more, so if two works for you, there’s your walking group. Big groups sound great in theory, but once you get more than five women involved, someone’s always getting lost or run over. I hate that.
2. Joy, oh, joy. How can you not smile when you pass a group of laughing women? Moods are contagious, so fill your walking group with people who make lemonade out of lemons, see the glass as half full, not empty, or (fill in your own cliché here.)
3. Sisters of synchronicity. Consider stride length and willingness to sweat. I’m not saying short people can’t walk with tall people, but if you walk with me, you’re going to have to move.
4. Going my way? Who’s on first? What’s on second? Make sure you have a plan for where and when and how often you’re going to walk, as well as what your route will be, and perhaps most important, how many bathrooms you’ll need to pass along the way.
5. You’re wearing that? I have kids to insult me, so I don’t need it from my walking group. Critical, negative people sap your energy, so just walk away!
6. One bad apple. (See Number 5.)
7. The dog ate my sneakers. Stuff definitely happens, but if it happens to one of your members every other time you walk, you might want to think about an accountability intervention. In a good walking group, you’re in or you’re out!
8. You’re late, you’re late, for a very important date. I admit that I just hang up if someone puts me on hold for longer than it takes to find out that the other call is not from a child in a burning building. I’m busy. My time matters. Don’t put me on hold and don’t keep me waiting to walk with you. If there are only two of you and you don’t live far from each other, you might want to consider leaving your homes at the same time and walking toward each other. A bigger group could meet at a parking lot or track, so members can keep circling until everybody gets there.
9. Chemistry is everything. Life is short, so if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Find another group of women to walk with.
10. It’s your walking club. So cry if you want to! Okay, please don’t cry, at least every time you walk, but beyond that, the rules are yours for the making.
Let’s start a walking revolution—one step at a time!
If you’re looking for some more inspiration and haven’t read The Wildwater Walking Club books yet, here are the direct links to find them:
Buy The Wildwater Walking Club: Back on Track
Claire Cook wrote her first novel in her minivan when she was 45. At 50, she walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the adaptation of Must Love Dogs, starring Diane Lane and John Cusack. She is now the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Amazon bestselling author of 17 books. Be the first to hear about new releases, giveaways, and insider extras at http://ClaireCook.com/newsletter/.