Walking Groups – Are They Suitable for You?

Walking is proven to be one of the most beneficial and effective exercises for our physical health, mental health and longevity. With the rise of in-person social exercise events, like running clubs and walking groups, it’s important to consider what the best exercise is for you and if walking groups are suitable for you.

This article has been created in collaboration with Heart Foundation Walking and Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP), Hayley Ferguson. 


Heart Foundation Walking (HFW) is Australia’s largest free walking network. Yes, free to the public and open to everyone! There are no restrictions as to who can attend HFW, it’s open to everyone of all backgrounds, locations and abilities, so whether you are just getting started with exercise, recovering from an injury or want to make new friends, walking groups are a great option for you.

HFW includes both walking groups and personal walking plans. Participants are able to join a local walking group or if they prefer to walk by themselves or with their own goals, personal walking plans are a great option for this.


“I felt very welcomed in the walking group and found that it’s great exercise and as I am getting older, it’s good for movement. Don’t feel shy about coming for the first time. Once you start, you will look forward to coming to catch up with other walkers.” – Sina | Mackay, QLD.

“It felt good to walk at my own pace and I could talk to whoever was walking at the same pace as me. I enjoy it for my heart health, social interaction, and window shopping as we walk around the indoor shopping centre venue of our group.” – Dorne | Mackay, QLD.

“The group is very welcoming and inclusive of all newcomers, and I have felt this from day one. I absolutely love this exercise group. I think it is great exercise for anyone. There is a range of warm up exercises at the beginning and when walking we know that it is supervised, but free to walk at our own pace and for as long as suits us. There is a wide age range so it’s suitable exercise for all abilities and fitness levels.” – Marg | Mackay, QLD.


AEP Hayley Ferguson and her walking group.



The following questions have been answered by Hayley Ferguson, ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) at Proactive Health.

Q: How do I host my own walking group?


Anyone can host a walking group through HFW as long as they are over 18 years of age and willing to complete any necessary background checks (e.g. National Police Check).

HFW offers insurance cover, free promotional materials to help grow your walking group, regular email newsletters and support in managing your walking group online. You can start a Heart Foundation Walking group through the Heart Foundation website here.

I started my walking group during Exercise Right Week in 2016. I wanted to host an event to promote exercise physiology and get people moving within my community. I approached my local shopping centre and set up a meeting with centre management to explain the benefits of hosting a walking group for free. Now 8 years later, our group is still being promoted on the Canelands Central website and we are still getting new members signing up regularly.

After work walk banner

Q: Has your walking group helped you promote your profession of exercise physiology?


Having a large group of walkers to promote my services to has been helpful over the last 8 years. I have been able to encourage my clientele to participate in extra supervised exercise and I have been able to access new clients from walkers who have picked up referrals to see me through care plans or participation in private group classes. I was a provider through the Exercise Right for Active Ageing program and had plenty of participants who were interested in trying out AEP-led group classes from this.

I have done several events over the last few years promoting Exercise Right Week, putting on exercise classes and educating my walkers on how to manage their own health. I feel it has helped raise awareness of the AEP profession in my community and got more people exercising regularly who may not have felt safe or motivated to exercise by themselves.

Q: How has your walking group been beneficial to your clients?


The group is very social with many walkers staying after the regular walk to have coffee and connect with friends they have met through the group. We cater to all fitness levels and abilities with the shopping centre being an ideal spot to host the group with plenty of seating, climate-controlled year-round and a safe space allowing us to walk rain, hail or shine.

Q: Any final tips for someone wanting to host their own walking group?


I would encourage all health professionals to start a Heart Foundation Walking group. It is a great way to give back to the community and you get to have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of a large group of people. Having a walking group on the Monday morning is a nice way to start your working week plus a good way to boost your own health!

Start your own walking group today.