According to the American College of Sports Medicine, group exercise has many benefits:
- exposure to a social and fun environment
- a safe and effectively designed workout
- a consistent exercise schedule
- an accountability factor for participating in exercise
- a workout that requires no prior exercise knowledge or experience
Walking with a group is a simple, easy way to begin getting more exercise!
The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports “walking groups are all the rage in the UK.” Walking for Health is a program that was created 15 years ago by an Oxford general practitioner. The group is currently the country’s largest walking network, with 70,000 walkers, 15,000 volunteer walk leaders and 3,000 walks offered every week. Wow! That’s impressive.
Walking groups are perfect for people who like pre-planned activities. Participants can “sit back and enjoy the ride,” while the walk leader does all the work. (Planning the route, adjusting for participants fitness levels, etc.) Just let “those feet do the walking” while enjoying a conversation with an acquaintance or partaking in a stress free meditation with nature.
Studies indicate group walkers note improvements to their psychological health due to the social interactions. Moods improve, depression is lessened and feelings of isolation and loneliness disappear.
Don’t forget… there is a feeling of safety in a guided outdoor exercise activity. Members of the group look out for one another and also share bonds of support and camaraderie.
As people motivate one another to participate, feelings of positivity increase.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine concludes: “Walking groups are effective and safe with good adherence and wide-ranging health benefits. They could be a promising intervention as an adjunct to other healthcare or as a proactive health-promoting activity.”
Search your neighborhood, park district, or running store for a local group. Look online in meetups or start your own group. Your benefits are waiting!!