31 Aug Walking and health hits headlines
Walking has made the front and prominent pages of some well known British newspapers today.
A new scientific research project has concluded that just 20 minutes walking a day can help us to live longer.
Cambridge University studied 334 000 people to reach the conclusions.
The findings seem hardly surprising and are aimed in large at the physically inactive.
Those of who already enjoy being outdoors find that both the walking itself and the surroundings we are doing it in (especially when green, natural and peaceful) bring more than physical effects but positive effects on our mental health and well-being too. Many of us have known it for years.
Those of us who already hold these beliefs and walk regularly are not those being targeted with such news. However I firmly believe we can all benefit from being outdoors. And yes walking is just one way to achieve that.
So if you are reading this and walk regularly, take our holidays and other adventures, forgive me. My next section is probably not aimed at you.
If you are reading this and would like to be fitter, incorporate more walking into your life and wondering how to do it, here’s my own take in the hope it may just help inspire you to try.
I achieve this by weaving walking and other exercise into my life whenever I can. I have a family with two children aged 11 and 15 as well as Foot Trail so whilst I love my life, my time can be pulled in different directions. But I don’t use time as an excuse. I know how important these pockets of exercise are to my health. So I pay attention to making them happen.
I believe the key is to think more about walking and the outdoors. Look for opportunities where you can walk.
Can you walk to work? The shops? The bus stop or a bus stop one on from your usual? Or try getting off the bus one stop early so you have to walk!
Can you take the stairs in car parks or hotels instead of the lift? I often do. Once you get fitter can you run up them?)
Take a 10 -15 minute break at lunchtime and walk around the block, to the park, where ever you are.
In the evening pop on your trainers and take a 20 minute walk. Time it with dusk and it makes a lovely time of the day to pause and reflect on the events of the day.
Don’t let weather deter you. If it’s raining throw on a raincoat and hat and get out there. What’s getting a bit wet? You can dry off when you get back, have a nice hot shower and a cup of tea and feel great.
Where is your nearest green space? Even the smallest park can offer solitude, green space and wildlife to enjoy with squirrels and birds.
Like all things, new habits take time to form. So be kind to yourself, experiment and give it a go. If you a miss a few don’t worry, pick up again the next day. It will take effort initially. Start with one new change and build up gradually. You’ll be walking more before you know it. Feeling fitter, happier, probably losing some weight and gaining a new appreciation in the outdoors.
If you have any tips or thoughts on what and why you first got into walking – or ways of incorporating more walking into your life please share them below.
by Alison Howell, Founder and Managing Director Foot Trails