How to Start a Walking Group Resource
This link is a printable resource to help you plan and start a walking group including a survey of questions for fellow walkers that will help you determine when, how often, where and how to organize your walks.
Why Start a Walking Group at Work
Start a walking group at your workplace so you and your colleagues will have an opportunity to be physically active during the workday. Many people find it hard to fit physical activity into their schedule so why not try going for a 10 -20 minute brisk walk at work. Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines recommend a minimum of 10-minute intervals of activity in order to accumulate a total of 60 minutes of light physical activity every day to stay healthy or improve your health. Walking is easy and inexpensive. You will be surprised at how good you will feel, your stress level will be reduced, and you will feel energized.
Pedometers are helpful tools to improve awareness and encourage people to increase the amount they walk every day. It is recommended that adults work up to 10,000 steps a day or more. For tips and tools on how to use a pedometer have a look at this resource from the Physical Activity Resource Centre.
How is a walking group organized?
- Spread the word - use email, voicemail and posters to get people interested.
- Ask your friends to join you. This will motivate others to get started.
- Make it fun and unstructured. Start slowly so that none of your co-workers are too intimidated to continue.
- Encourage your colleagues to take walking breaks instead of coffee breaks in order to get some fresh air.
- Promote a noon-hour walking group.
- Take a friend to help you map out a safe route that takes between 15 and 40 minutes so that people at all fitness levels may enjoy their walk.
- Create an indoor walking route in case of poor weather - go to a local mall if your workspace is not conducive to walking.
- Increase the length of time your walking group spends walking gradually so that everyone is motivated to keep on walking.
- Track your walking groups progress on a graph or poster in a main foyer to inspire others to join.
- Hold a contest or challenge between departments.
- Host a heart healthy nutritious potluck before or after your walking groups noon-hour walk.
- Ask your colleagues when they would prefer to walk. Some people need a "pick me up" in the morning while others require one in the later afternoon.
Things to Consider:
- Wear appropriate shoes. Nothing could be more discouraging than blistered sore feet at the end of a walk.
- Dress for the weather.
- Practice sun safety year round. Apply sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of at least 15, 30 minutes before going outside.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Walkers should bring a bottle of water with them to keep hydrated.
- Stretch after a short five minute warm-up. This will prevent stiff muscles.
- Encourage individual walkers in the group to record their progress on a calendar, in a log book. Go to your nearest Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit office to pick up a free physical activity log or call us at 1-800-660-5853 and we can mail you a copy.
- Continue to promote your walking group and report on the group's progress so that this healthy habit is sustained at your workplace!
- Start a Walking Club in Your Workplace (Information Card): A quick reference card providing employees with tips on how to start a walking group in the workplace.
Physical Activity and Shift Work
Believe it or not there are immediate benefits to physical activity for shift workers such as improved sleep and less stress. There are also many important long-term benefits such as: reduced risk of heart disease, adult-onset diabetes, colon and breast cancer, osteoporosis and depression.
While working a night or day shift, establish a wake up routine and try to make physical activity a part of it. Take your dog for a walk or pop an exercise video into the VCR. Once you make it to work try and come up with ways to incorporate short bouts of physical activity throughout your shift. You could take a break and go for a quick walk outside or simply stand up and stretch for a few minutes.
You may learn that your colleagues who are working similar shifts are interested in joining a league, soccer, badminton, hockey or basketball. This should be easy to book during the day, when fields and recreation facilities are less used. Walking groups, mountain-biking tours or skiing outdoors are also fun to organize for the outdoorsy types.
When you finally get that well deserved time off, use every opportunity to be active with you partner and children, plan a hiking trip, a day of skating or a canoe trip as a main activity. You will be surprised to find how alert you feel and how well you will be able to sleep afterwards.
To ensure that you will be able to fall asleep relatively easily do not exercise vigorously two hours before your major sleep of the day.
Keep track of your exercise and establish goals in a journal or a log. You will feel great when you obtain your goals and gain control over your health and well-being.