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Fitness Articles  ›  Exercise Basics

Choosing a Walking or Running Route

On the Road to Fitness

-- By Rebecca Pratt, Staff Writer
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Water Stops and Resting Places
When possible plan a route that has water stops: park fountains, spigots outside buildings, neighbor’s hoses, or your own. Consider an "out and back" circuit in your neighborhood that allows you to stop at home for a quick drink, or carry water with you. On hot, humid days, look for ways to get wet: pass through a sprinkler or splash yourself from a water fountain or tap.

Even experienced walkers and runners can sometimes use a rest; novice walkers even more so. Routes with seats, shelters, or café stops may be welcome respites that allow you to re-hydrate before you push on. If you’re working out in hot weather, you may also want to pick a shady route that’s cooler and provides protection from a broiling sun.

Safety
Last but not least, always consider safety. Avoid high-crime or deserted areas, but also look for areas that are not overly congested, either with cars or other types of traffic such as roller-bladers or cyclists. Wear light-colored clothes or reflectors so that drivers can see you, walk or run facing traffic, and use sidewalks whenever possible. Employ the buddy system—especially during the early morning and late evening hours.

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About The Author

Rebecca Pratt Rebecca Pratt
A freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines, Becky loves covering ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Member Comments

  • The community where I live is remote without much traffic. My best part of my walking route is through the park where the walkways are rubbery. Wonderfully bouncy. My main concern is always animals that could present danger. No bathrooms though and if I need to I can go in the bush but prefer not to. - 7/6/2014 4:08:10 PM
  • One thing missing in this article is bathrooms! I can carry plenty of water with me and seats are pretty easy to come by (even the ground works in a pinch), but I make sure all my routes have plenty of bathroom stops available. Nothing kills the enjoyment of a walk faster than a full bladder with no relief in sight! - 6/27/2014 6:07:03 PM
  • Few runners run on the sidewalks because concrete is harder on the joints than asphalt. I alternate between each side of the road because the surface isn't flat; the road crowns in the center, which means whichever leg is closer to the center of the road is a little "shorter." Switching between the two sides of the roads evens out the stress on the knees.

    BUT - I never run wearing headphones, I keep my ears "open" listening for cars, in low light I wear light colored clothing and something retroreflective, and I recognize it's my responsibility to be as visible as possible. I know how much it upsets me to get "spooked" by someone who's wearing dark clothing and who doesn't appear to take their own safety seriously. - 6/11/2014 8:05:24 PM
  • "use sidewalks whenever possible" ...my husband (DH) says that on his very early AM trips to work (dark out), he frequently comes close to joggers on the roads where there ARE sidewalks. They are running WITH traffic, and he feels like they are setting themselves up to get hit. What's the deal???!

    Out here on the rural roads, there are no shoulders, just ditches. It really isn't possible to get off the road every time a car goes by. Cars don't much give a care if there is a car going both ways. -- I find that walking with nordic poles seems to cause the cars to move over and give me space. - 4/5/2014 10:42:26 PM
  • Portland Oregon has the Waterfront, has lot of Parks. some with Walking Trails and other places to walk. Get our and Enjoy the Nice Weather this Summer. God Blessings to Everyone. Have a Wonderful Week. Take Care. Hugs!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!


    - 6/13/2013 6:10:41 AM
  • I have a lovely park with all the things mentioned...chang
    ing seasons, a lake, a river (with a walking bridge across it), lots of people to chat with, and it is just a 2 mile bike ride away. - 10/21/2012 11:20:11 PM
  • The article had many interesting tips. I live out in the country so to pick scenic routes to walk would mean me driving. I live on a street that is several miles long, flat & hilly that I can walk on when I don't have time to go somewhere. - 10/21/2012 6:41:55 PM
  • I used to try walking 'every day' but found that I kept postponing throughout the day 'til it was too late!!! Then I joined a MEETUP group and now have walking buddies - sure makes the walk enjoyable. We walk daily at 8:30 am for an hour - home by 9:45. Also found a Meetup Nordic group and walk on Saturday morning with them.

    There are many meetup groups out there - or maybe start you own!

    - 10/21/2012 2:02:08 PM
  • DAWNLEO
    I have been trying to find when you first start walking how long do I wakling for??? - 9/11/2012 10:42:47 PM
  • A couple of times I have had to google abbreviations. I know it is part of the texting world...but cannot find DH. What does that mean? As for walking, I just bought a pedometer to try and GET me on track (haha). I do have a great neighborhood to walk in, small town with great shops and cafes and a park with walking trails. I just need to do it! I am so frustrated with the scale going up and down the same four pounds every other week. Ugh. - 8/17/2012 7:40:17 AM
  • Very good tips, especially concerning the terrain. I used to run only on a track, but it eventually got boring and stopped challenging me. Now I have a routine where I run straight from my house to a school track nearby and eventually run back. I love having changing scenery as well as the challenge of such hilly terrain (there are are both very steep and gently sloping hills). It comes to a little over 3.5 miles, but I can easily add on more mileage at the track. If I get bored, I can switch up my path or add another neighborhood on. =D - 7/28/2012 11:05:19 AM
  • very good article and if I go anywhere; walking is what I have to do or wait a friend to come and see if I need anything from the store. I do most of my walking in the house, around the yard , or to the mailbox and back. - 7/28/2012 12:44:43 AM
  • GRANNYELM
    I tired walking in my neighbor but because on uneven ground, dogs, safety, I stopped. Tried the treadmill and that, most definetly, isn't my thing. One morning I drove to our local mall, it is open before store hours and I have so enjoyed working there along with other walkers. The temp is good, other people around you, conversation, and you get to window shop with no temptation--the stores are closed!! - 5/1/2012 12:48:53 PM
  • You completely left out mall-walking!

    It's good to go to the mall to walk because there's safety in numbers, and because the level surface is good for your joints and prevents injuries, and it's always fairly clean. Some hospitals promote mall-walking for their patients to begin a wellness program. It's something to consider, even if you don't think malls are cool. Don't always avoid the mall, you could get a workout in, while looking around. And in the summer, when you feel it's too hot to workout, bear in mind that the mall is air conditioned. - 4/6/2012 3:51:01 AM
  • BADCHULO
    I am lucky in that where I live I am close enough to the ocean or the mountains... I can choose which area I would like to walk in when I go for a long walk on the weekends... do I want to see pretty beaches, rocks and the ocean..?? Or am I in the mood for some pine trees and wildlife? (Of course, during the work week I just walk / jog around my neighborhood... I try to go in different directions though). I take my camelback with me for water on longer walks on the weekend to keep my hands free... - 8/26/2011 12:06:43 PM
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