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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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Susan Tweit

I say that walking is my medicine. (And I mean that! It really is.) If I wouldn’t miss a dose of my medicine, why would I allow myself to miss a dose of walking? That works for me. :)


Thanks for the reminder and motivation to get back to walking. Overall lately, I’ve done pretty well but a week away on a well deserved trip has thrown me off a bit. I’ve recently lost my dear mom…so my grief is on the front burner…walking gives me time alone to continue processing it all.


I used to walk religiously; I made it my first priority of the day. Then, because of a series of difficulties and losses, I stopped. During the ensuing time, the arthritis in my knees made it impossible to feel safe walking. I have just had my second knee replacement and I need to get back out there but have been having trouble getting started. Your article has been helpful in fanning the fire of motivation! Thank you!

Pat Skene

I motivate myself to walk with music. I have a walk playlist, where I have specifically chosen songs that are calibrated to my walking stride. So when I walk to the beat of the music, I feel more like I’m walking-dancing. Fills me with endorphins.

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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