Although Mood Walks groups are only required to go for ten walks together, we hope your group continues well beyond! Here are some ways to ensure your participants and your agency keep up your momentum.
Supporting Participants’ Engagement in Physical Activity in All Seasons
Say you have created a successful Mood Walks group in the milder months. What next? How will you manage the winter? Hopefully, participants are growing accustomed to engaging in physical activity and will continue their efforts. Here are some ideas to keep up physical activity as a group through the entire year:
- Some participants may be open to walking year-round. Provide education about dressing appropriately, and consider ending the walk at a coffee shop, with a hot beverage to warm your walkers up. Walking outside in the winter is a great way to get a little vitamin D and appreciate the season.
- Try meeting at a mall or large public area that would permit indoor walking. Depending on weather conditions, your group will then have the option of walking outdoors or inside.
- Look to your community partners. Is there an indoor track, recreation centre, or community pool that would permit your group to work out for a reasonable fee?
- Is there a winter sport your group could try out? Snowshoeing is good exercise and not too challenging to learn. Skating can be a fun group outing if people have skated before. In some areas, urban poling (also called Nordic walking or exerstriding) has become popular. Again, look to community partners for affordable equipment and instruction.
- Think creatively about how to expand your resources. Could your group meet and work out to an exercise DVD once a week? Check the library for DVDs to try out. Do you have access to a Wii console and a physically demanding game?
Staying Connected to the Mood Walks Project as a Leader
We hope that being part of the Mood Walks project has lent some inspiration to you as a leader. Here are some ideas on how to stay connected to the project:
- Look for ways to continue the Community of Practice you developed through the project. Consider maintaining regular meetings or phone calls with facilitators from other organizations you have connected with.
- Form a partnership with a sister organization that is also interested in maintaining their Mood Walks group. Your groups could compete with each other in terms of number of steps or group kilometres walked.
- Look for ways to grow and develop your Mood Walks group. Could you expand to include other programs at your organization? Could you partner with another community walking group? Having more people involved in your Mood Walks plan makes your group more sustainable.
- Inform your community about your group and its successes. Recruiting more participants or targeting a new segment of your service population will help keep your group fresh.
Maintaining Relationships with Partners
Just as it is important to get feedback from participants, it is also important to solicit feedback from partners. A change in season is a natural time to review your partnership so far and ensure that it is mutually beneficial. Revisit the expectations you established when creating your partnership (see “Working with Partners—Forming Solid Partnerships”) and ensure both parties’ needs are being met. Establish a plan for how the partnership will continue to grow, based on your experiences so far.