Learn how three busy moms made a pact to walk together before dawn and how you can too.

Birmingham Walking Fitness Buddies
Birmingham walking buddies Desiree Morgan, 46, Teri Bundy, 48, and Kathleen Gard, 54
| Credit: Robbie Caponetto

Birmingham Walking Girls

As the mom of two, Kathleen Gard found herself seeing her friends only at soccer matches and school programs—not exactly the best places for meaningful conversations.

Her solution to fitting in time for friends? Starting an early-morning walking group with equally busy moms Teri Bundy, a fitness instructor, and Desiree Morgan, a radiologist. "Without these women, I would never get up at 5 a.m. to put on a pair of sneakers," says Kathleen, a market research manager.

The trio meets at 5:15 a.m. two to three times a week in Desiree's neighborhood. Together they walk 4.5 miles to supplement their individual fitness routines. Topics range from what books they're reading to what they're making for supper, with lots of laughs and shared stories in between.

"On the days when we walk, I genuinely feel better and have more energy, as well as a confidence because I've taken the time to do something healthy," Desiree says. "Plus, walking with friends helps me keep up with their lives."

Start Your Own Walking Group

How To Find Walking Buddies
Look for those with similar goals and schedules. Ask friends and neighbors, and be honest about your skill level and availability. Stick with three to six members to keep it manageable.

Establish and Stick to a Schedule
Pick a place to meet two to three times a week. To respect everyone's time, begin promptly, and let the others know if you can't show.

Stay Motivated
Keep a journal of your progress, rewarding each other for successful participation. Focus on rewards that are non-food related, like treating yourselves to pedicures or a movie together.

A Walking Plan for Beginners

Set Realistic Goals: Most people can start by walking 20 to 30 minutes two to three times a week. Gradually increase your time and/or distance by no more than 10% per week.

Focus on Technique: Stand tall with your shoulders relaxed. Don't look at the ground; instead, focus your gaze 10-15 feet in front of you. Push off with the ball of your feet and roll heel to toe, as if you are gliding on a surface.

Walk Two by Two: This will minimize natural inclination to turn your head to the side to talk with friends, which can slow you down.