If you’re feeling more sedentary than usual or just need a boost in motivation, challenge yourself to a month-long walking challenge to end the year on a personal fitness high.
The challenge: Cross off as many items as you can from this list of 40 ideas, committing to a walk at least once every day this month (and feel free to go for extra credit).
“Many of us have the goal to walk or move more,” says Katelyn Barrons, a NASM-certified personal trainer and ACE-certified health coach based in Calgary, Alberta. “However, just saying you’re going to walk more won’t make it happen. Often, we need a fun challenge or incentive to make that goal a reality.” So use this list as added motivation.
Also, you may be more likely to follow through if you ask a friend or loved one to participate in the challenge — you’ll have a built-in accountability partner. “Including other people in a challenge utilizes some positive peer pressure and helps it feel more exciting,” says Barrons.
The variety of challenges should keep you motivated throughout December or anytime you’d like to rekindle your love of walking. You can do something new every day or repeat your favorite activities as often as you’d like. Give yourself 1 point each time you complete an activity:
1. Walk a mile as quickly as possible, then work to beat your time.
2. Walk a mile and note your average heart rate, then aim to lower that number as time passes.
3. Practice interval walking, starting with 30-second intervals and working up to 2-minute intervals.
5. Walk 50 miles this month, and track your progress with MyFitnessPal.
6. Add 5 minutes to your walk when you can to extend your total daily walking time.
7. Find a route with steep hills, then walk uphill to strengthen your glutes and quads.
8. Wear a weighted vest while you walk to make an ordinary walk more challenging.
9. Swing your arms and focus on posture while walking.
10. Add lunges to your walk every time you reach an intersection.
11. Go off-road; walking on grass or through the woods can be more challenging than pavement.
13. Adopt a walking mantra and use it to inspire yourself to go farther or faster.
14. Invite friends to join this challenge and offer a prize to the one who earns the most points.
15. Buy yourself winter workout gear if you check off 25, 30 or 35 items on this list.
16. Listen to a favorite podcast only when walking.
18. Take your dog for an extra-long walk around the neighborhood.
19. Walk with a friend in the neighborhood (while wearing a mask and social distancing, of course).
20. Invite a faraway friend on a virtual walking date.
21. Walk with your partner to catch up and set goals for the next month.
22. Walk after dark to fully experience the holiday decorations in your neighborhood.
23. Take a short walk if you have 5–10 minutes to kill as an alternative to scrolling social media on your phone.
25. Try a walking meditation.
26. Walk up and down flights of stairs or try a walking video.
28. Walk backward through different rooms in your house.
29. Try a new workout on your treadmill, adding incline or increasing your speed.
30. Go for a walk as soon as you wake up.
32. Take a post-breakfast walk.
33. Break from work mid-morning for a short walk.
34. Start your lunch break with a walk.
35. Go for a walk after lunch.
36. When you feel a 3 p.m. dip in energy, walk instead of grabbing a snack.
37. Time your walk to coincide with the sunset.
38. End your workday with a walk before you think about dinner.
39. Enjoy an after-dinner walk with members of your household.
If you checked off up to 10 items: You’re building healthy habits.
Keep it up! You’re on your way to becoming a consistent walker. Try walking with a friend or pairing your walks with podcasts, music or something you enjoy so you’re motivated to go more often.
If you checked off 11–20 items: You’re becoming a regular walker.
Good job! You’ve accumulated an impressive number of walking sessions. Stick with the plan, and you’ll meet even more of your walking goals over time.
If you checked off 21–30 items: You’re committed to walking.
Be proud of yourself! You walked almost every day this month. Devoting yourself to regular exercise should help you have more energy and feel good about your effort and yourself.
If you checked off 31–40 items: You’re on a walking streak.
Amazing! Nothing stops you from getting in your walk once a day or even twice. Your commitment to exercise and your health should serve you well in the New Year and beyond.
To become more active, try setting a simple goal to increase (and track) your daily steps. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app and choose a 28-day step plan to learn tips to boost your activity.