5 Tips for making outdoor walks more interesting

Practice mindfulness. Good news for the 99.999% of us who have been feeling on edge lately: Merging a walk with meditative practices may help dial down stress, according to a 2013 study of 74 “high-stress” adults. Mindful walking often includes focusing on breaths, keying into physical sensations—such as the feeling of a breeze on your face—and directing thoughts to the present moment. Try it on your own or follow a guided meditation through an app like Headspace (free in the WW app for members).

Think chapters instead of steps. Measuring strolls in steps, miles, or minutes can start to feel like drudgery after a while. In that case, Atkins says you may have more fun marking the distance with help from podcasts and audiobooks. Instead of, say, vowing to trek 2 miles, commit to a walk that’s “one chapter long” instead, or try trekking for a 30-minute episode of your favorite podcast.

Reach out. Been meaning to check in on a relative or a friend lately? Use your next solo walk as a chance to call and catch up. Free of household distractions, you will likely be better able to tune in to the conversation than you would otherwise. Know of a friend who lives along your route? Tell them you will be passing by so they can wave or say hi out the window, giving you a mini social boost to look forward to as you get those steps in.

Tweak your timing. If your schedule allows, heading out at a different time of day may revive your walking mojo. For instance, if you typically stroll in late afternoon, try first thing in the morning instead—your favorite trail may look a lot different when it is sparkling with dewdrops and early light. If your walking route is circular, another idea is to walk in the reverse direction from your norm. Seeing the sights from another angle may inspire newfound appreciation for them.

Pump your playlist. This tip is for you if you tend to lose steam on your walks: A small 2015 study suggests that listening to favorite music may not only heighten overall enjoyment of a workout; that enjoyment may actually rise as the workout goes on. Atkins recommends choosing songs with upbeat tempos—170–190 beats per minute or so—which may nudge you to maintain intensity, according to a February 2020 study of 19 women published in Frontiers in Psychology. Or try a workout app like Aaptiv (also free in the WW member app), which connects you with streaming music in the tempo range of your choice.

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