Resource #7

Top tips to starting a walking group at work

Scheduling a walking group into your working week is a great way to increase your daily physical activity and stay motivated to move. Walking groups are easy to start and have benefits for you and your organisation.

The Case for Starting a walking group

From improved health to greater productivity the simple walking group is a great way to get moving at work. Research has shown that walking groups have wide-ranging health benefits including reducing body fat, blood pressure, risk of depression and total cholesterol. For workers, the improvement in health may result in reduced sick leave and increased productivity.

How to start a walking group at work

People and employers like walking groups. Apart from a comfortable pair of shoes there’s no need for special clothes or fancy equipment.   Follow these simple steps to get one started at your workplace:

1. Float the idea

  • Get the ball rolling with a few keen workmates.
  • You might need organisational approval so include a OHS, health and wellness or HR rep for support
  • Consider insurance cover or sign up via the Heart Foundation Walking program
  • Having someone with first aid experience is good or consider engaging a personal trainer or exercise physiologist to lead the group.
  • If you need to, consider starting the walking group with neighbouring workplaces

2. Get prepared

  • Decide where to meet, what day/s and start time
  • Start with 10 or 15-minute walks and build from there
  • Plan your route or use walkingmaps.com.au
  • Have an extreme weather plan – bring coats (or sunscreen and hats), walk indoors or cancel

3. Gather your crowd

  • Put up posters, send an email and spread the word
  • Be inclusive of all abilities and fitness levels – it’s OK to turn back after a few Km’s, have a rest or power walk at the front. The goal is to get out and move

4. Motivate

  • Schedule a recurring calendar invite or even a reminder to bring your sneakers
  • Your workplace might like to sponsor a prize like a pair of sneakers or a fitness tracker for those who walk regularly
  • Start a group social media page and use it to support each other and maintain the momentum
  • Celebrate success – your first month, six months or year; when you hit one million steps or enough kilometres to walk the earth
  • If your group disbands over Winter don’t despair, set a calendar reminder to get started again in Spring