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Can’t go walking because it’s dark/raining/scary neighborhood?

One of the simplest ways to get a good workout is by walking. Anytime you want, you can just go outside your home and take a walk, right? Except not. It rains. In winter, you may spend all the daylight hours working and/or commuting. Or maybe you live in a neighborhood that doesn’t make you feel so safe, or one that lacks sidewalks.

Storm clouds over landscape

Free places to walk

But there are a few other places where you can get a good walk for free. And the more you mix up different walking routines, the more benefit you’ll get.

  • Malls. You might feel silly power-walking at a mall, but many malls open up early in the morning to let people do just that before the shopping crowds arrive. If you can’t make it during those hours, consider going during shopping hours anyway – just put on some casual clothes that let you move but don’t scream “exercise wear” (though, honestly, there’s so much exercise wear passing as fashion, it probably doesn’t matter), and keep telling yourself, “I have a very important sale to get to” as you go speeding around the mall.
  • Parks. When weather permits, parks are great for walking. If you don’t have one near your home, you may have one near work that you can get to on a lunch break. Or there may be one a short drive or bus hop from your home.
  • Your apartment building. Seriously. Got seven flights of steps in your building? Unless they’re right against someone’s bedroom wall and it’s 3 am, chances are good this is a great place to get some exercise. Another apartment option: the hallways.
  • School tracks. Because public schools are increasingly locked up like Fort Knox, this one isn’t as easy as it was a few years ago. But do some research – odds are some schools near you let people in to walk on the track.
  • The neighborhood where you work. If your home isn’t a great neighborhood for walking, what about work? Just a half-hour during your lunch break provides a decent cardio workout. If you’re concerned about getting sweaty, you don’t have to power walk every time. Even a little stroll gets your blood pumping and gives your body a break from the usual sitting or standing of a workday.
  • Parking lots. I’ve seen numerous employees walking or jogging around the parking lots of their offices before work, during lunch or after work. If you’re near a parking lot, this can be a great place to get your exercise. Just remember to watch for drivers who aren’t watching for pedestrians.

I admit these aren’t going to work for everybody. It can be really difficult to find a place where you can walk when it’s convenient for you. If none of these work, you may want to check out steppers and other options that let you get a gym quality workout at home.