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How to Restart Your Walking Habit

By Jude Walsh October 19, 2023 Health and Fitness

It’s happened again. I was walking almost every day. My joints felt loose, and my arthritic pain was minimal. Then I missed a day, then two days in a row. Then we had a few days of rain and I elected not to go to the indoor track. Then a dear friend died and instead of walking to ease the grief I stopped walking all together.

This is not the first time I’ve done this, and it might not be the last. Previous fall-off-the-wagon stops were because of minor injuries, overscheduling, and numerous issues related to the pandemic such as stay-at-home orders and parks being closed.

Here are my top ten tips to get walking again.

Forgive Yourself

Beating yourself up about it is counterproductive. The stopping is in the past, the starting is now. Embrace it.

Start Small

One loop around the track or block or a short trail is all you need to get started. Don’t overdo it!

Embrace the Joy of Beginning

This is a fresh start, and all things are possible. Have fun!

Look Back and See How You Did It Before

I keep exercise journals and as I go back and read them, I remember how much fun it was to keep moving. My past accomplishments motivate me.

Track Your Miles or Track Your Days

Maybe buy a snazzy new journal for this. Or use a fitness tracker. Set a reward schedule. Something small for finishing a week (a Starbucks coffee or new socks), something a bit bigger for a month (maybe a manicure or pedicure). Maybe at 100 days book a massage.

Enlist a Friend or Online Group for Support

Consider using a site like Meetup to find a group to walk with occasionally. Or simply post on Facebook asking any of your friends in the area to message you if interested in walking together.

Set a Trails Goal

I am challenging myself to walk all the trails in three local parks. The 15 trails are different lengths and have different degrees of difficulty. I made a post-it for each trail and have them on a whiteboard. After I complete a trail, I date it and move it to the done side of the board. So satisfying!

Choose a Beautiful Place If Possible

In the parks I appreciate the forest canopy, finding feathers, hearing bird calls, even seeing the occasional snake. You might enjoy walking around your neighborhood.

Nature Sounds or Headset?

Sometimes just tuning in to the sounds around me is enough. But as a writer, I sometimes listen to YouTube videos or podcasts about writing. I have an app on my phone where I can dictate any ideas for future books or essays inspired by the listening.

Have a Backup Plan

Where will you walk if it rains? You could go to an indoor track, but I also love heading to a small shopping center. The concrete can be hard on my feet but the people watching, and window shopping make up for it!

The Two-Day Rule

Once I have my mojo back, I try to follow the two-day rule. I can miss a day if busy, maybe even two. But without fail, if I miss more than two, I find it difficult to restart. So, no more than two consecutive misses. I feel so good in my body when I walk regularly. I’m back at it now and hope you will be too!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you stopped walking daily for whatever reason? Is it easy or difficult for you to restart? What benefits of walking do you miss the most when you don’t walk? Please add any tips of your own in the comments.

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I walk late at night, with bluetooth earpods playing podcasts into my ears. I take a powerful flashlight to blind any muggers and a weapon too, just in case. I suppose this may be more risky for a woman. I love my walks, could not live without them.


Gerry, I understand completely. You’ve made choices to protect yourself if necessary and with those in place, feel empowered to walk freely. Good for you! Love the flashlight idea. I don’t usually walk at night but frequently walk in the early morning dark. Am going to flashlight shop now. :-)


Sounds so easy. My problem is that I hate to walk, always have. So I need double motivation. I love to walk trails etc but don’t feel those are the same as walking miles for cardio. I used to walk a track, count off four laps, one mile done


Debbie, the first response on how to start exercise is always “walking.” That said, NOTHING is for everyone. If you hate walking, don’t do it. My second favorite is Zumba but I am really picky about Zumba classes. I like pop music as opposed to the more traditional Latin music. It seems I end up in classes with much younger people that way. Upside? I have lots of new, younger friends. Downside? Those rascals are FAST, lol. I struggle to keep up and do more marching in place than I’d like.

Trail walking is different from doing laps for sure. I tend to walk slower on trails but feel the dose of mother nature balances that out. Plus the uneven nature of trails is good for balance work.

I hope you can find something that doesn’t feel like a chore and I applaud you for trying to figure it out.


Great article! Thank you for sharing these tips. I have also experienced lapses related to all sorts of exercising – walking, Zumba, weight training. It never helps to focus on the downside. Your tips to turn to a positive mind set and simply begin again are wonderful. I also tell myself that rather than over thinking the situation, just get restarted by doing “something”. It doesn’t have to be difficult — just enough to break the negative cycle. I have also heard the concept that if you miss more than two workouts it is much more difficult to get back on track. Thanks for your encouragement!


“never helps to focus on the downside.” Exactly! Thanks for your response and… walk on!


I NEED to get back to walking. I’ve injured my knee and it’s almost healed. I plan on daily walks asap.


I am cheering you on, Joyce. You’ve got this!


I used to always write down how far I had walked. It motivated me to go further and to watch those miles increase.
Now, walking is painful and I’ve dropped the habit. You’re motivating me!


Oh, Sue! That makes me happy. Be gentle with yourself as you begin. Just getting out there is the first step. I believe in you.

The Author

Writer and Creativity and Mindset Coach Jude Walsh, EdD, helps artists develop a thriving practice. She aids women, post-divorce or at a turning point in their lives, to identify and create their optimal new life. She is the author of Post-Divorce Bliss: Ending Us and Finding Me. Please visit her at

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