7 Things Every Exercise Walker Finds Totally Annoying
"In every walk in nature," the famed 19th-century Scottish naturalist and philosopher John Muir once said, "one receives far more than he seeks." In today's day and age, that couldn't be more true. Sure, if you go on routine walks for exercise, you'll receive loads of health benefits, but you'll also encounter plenty of things on your walks that will leave you feeling pretty peeved. Those zooming scooters? Those people who blithely clog sidewalks? Those maddening, musclebound weightlifters who cast side-eyes your way at the gym? Ugh, don't even get us started on the unleashed dogs in the park.
For your reading enjoyment, we asked tons of fitness walkers what they find incredibly annoying when they go out on their walks, and we've included their responses right here. So read on, and take solace in the fact that you're not alone when go out for exercise and you often find yourself coming home slightly angry. And for some helpful tips for improving your walks, don't miss The Secret Trick for Walking for Exercise, Says Harvard.
Judgmental Gym Rats
There's nothing more annoying to a fitness walker than being on the receiving end of those judgmental glances from hardcore exercise buffs at the gym. "I've seen people who walk on a treadmill in a gym get yawned at," says Simon Gould, founder of Treadmill Run, a site devoted to all things treadmill. "The runners feel they should be walking outside and they're wasting the limited number of treadmills. They feel walking on a treadmill isn't proper exercise."
Of course, that's totally bogus—walking on a treadmill is terrific exercise. Even worse, these judgmental lifters and runners also seem to weave sexism into their behavior. "This is especially the case for women who do power walking on a treadmill incline with their arms swinging erratically," says Gould. "I've seen gymgoers stare at these people with derision in their eyes. Like they're not worthy of using the facilities if they can't use them properly." And for some great advice for fitness walkers, learn why These Are the Single Worst Shoes for Walking, Says New Study.
Chatty People Who Don't Respect Your Space
"When I'm walking for exercise, I often bring my dogs. I have my sunglasses on, AirPods in, and I'm likely doing a power walk with the Peloton app. I'm clearly checked out and in my own world," says Michelle Platt, the founder of the wellness site My Purse Strings and an avid exercise walker. "What annoys me most is when people start a full-fledged conversation with me. I'm a friendly person, but you can tell when someone is exercising and doesn't want to be
While a quick "hi" is totally fine, it's incredibly annoying to have your exercise interrupted. "Anything more than a 'hi' from a stranger is not fine," she says. "I usually only have a short window in my day to get a walk in, if at all, and when the weather's nice, I'm in my element. Just because someone is walking, rather than running, does not mean they're out for a social call. If you like my dogs, a quick pet and one comment is more than enough."
People Who Use Poor Sidewalk Etiquette
Take it from fitness walkers: In the United States, you should keep to the right side of sidewalks and move with the flow of foot traffic. If you need to stop, respectfully move to the side in a safe way to let others pass.
"People who walk in the middle of the sidewalk so you can't pass on either side are so annoying," says Barbara Farfan, a professional petsitter, who also walks between three and eight miles every day, 365 days per year. "Also: dog walkers who stroll on the opposite side of the sidewalk from their dog, blocking people with their leash, and people who slam into you because they are looking at their phone instead of where they are going."
But the sidewalk clogger she observes to be the most annoying? People who come to a dead stop. "It's a sideWALK, not a side-meet-chat-loiter-linger-text-search-adjust-rest-way!," she rightly observes. And for some great health benefits of walking, see here for the One Major Side Effect of Going on a Single 1-Hour Walk, Says New Study.
Zooming Scooters, Bicycles, and (ugh) e-Bikes
"My biggest pet peeve is when people on bicycles and motor scooters are riding towards me on the wrong side of the street," observes Lauren Levy, a self-described "stroller-pushing fitness walker living in San Francisco." "This happens on a daily basis when I walk on the 4-lane highway along the beach that's been shut down for recreational use. To most people, it's obvious that 2 lanes are for moving in one direction, and the 2 lanes (on the other side of the median) are for moving in the other direction. That doesn't stop dozens of people on wheels from zooming towards me—so close to me that I can feel their wind."
If you live in a major city like New York, you'll find another danger in e-Bikes. They're especially problematic because, though they go as fast as motorcycles, they look like regular bikes, and the people who use them hardly ever obey traffic laws. "In Brooklyn, I walk with my son," one mom once told me, "I don't fear cars. But I live in fear of e-Bikes, who zoom the wrong way down streets, up side walks, and are generally agents of total chaos."
Aside from personal safety reasons, these scooters and bikes will ruin a perfectly good workout. "It really messes up my flow," says Levy. "It's hard to get in the zone when you're practically fending for your life every 10 minutes."
"As an avid fitness walker who walks 3-5 miles per day—nearly every day of the year—the number one thing that I find annoying is dogs," says Adam Kemp, a professional basketball player and ISSA Certified Personal Trainer. "Personally, I love dogs. However, I do not love other people's uncontrolled dogs, and especially dogs that are off leashes or who are in low-fenced backyards."
Most cities have leash laws, but many simply aren't that enforced. "I regularly encounter people walking with their dogs off leashes or dogs who are allowed to run off their owners' property with no regard for me. I often walk with my wife and my young son, so this becomes especially nerve-racking for me. I've actually had to modify several of my consistent walking routes to avoid houses and people who regularly let their dogs run around without a leash, or who have fences that are low and appear to be jumpable for their dogs."
But what makes this even more annoying? The dog owners are clueless as to how annoying their pets are. "They will say things like, 'oh, he just wants to play with you!,' when their dog comes running at me and my family when we are walking together. Well, I don't want to play! It's unfortunate that people are too selfish with how they handle their dogs to allow others to feel comfortable."
While we encourage your attempt to see the world, you need to remember to respect the local exercise walkers. "Every year, thousands upon millions of tourists flood the major cities of the world, to eat at the same chain restaurants they have at home and take pictures of enlarged, lit-up advertisements," once observed HuffPost. "They bring with them their children, their tens of hundreds of extra pounds, and worst of all, their slow-walking habits. There is no getting rid of this yearly epidemic, and so regular city dwellers must learn to cohabitate during these stressful summer months until the sweet release of autumn approaches. Thanks for your money, now kindly go back from whence you came."
When Your Walks Ruin Your Clothes
In the category of annoyances, this one ranks quite low. But wearing the wrong clothes that annoy you is still really annoying.
"I have a desk job and get anxious if I've been sitting too long, so I take walks every day during my lunch hour," says Jeff Neal, of The Critter Depot. "There is a park near by, and I can take my walks during lunch. But one thing that's annoying is that my shirt gets untucked and stretched out when I walk. I like to power walk to get some energy going, but these walks untuck my shirt, stretch them out, and even gets sweat stains if it's too hot out. I love my walks, but I think I need to start taking my dress shirt off before I begin my mid-day excursion!"
To ensure that you're always wearing proper clothing, see here for the Bad Walking Habits You Should Stop Immediately, Say Walking Experts.