Personally, walking has always been a huge part of my life. My parents didn’t own a car until I was 16 years old, we walked everywhere. To the supermarkets, to church, to visit family etc. A family of 6 doesn’t fit easily into a taxi and the price would have been a stumbling block anyway. My school was miles from where we lived and so every morning I would walk for a good half an hour to get there.
I had never even thought about, let alone been appreciative of the benefits to walking. I had in fact spent many a mile, moaning about how long it was taking or battling with the idea of wanting to see friends but having to put in the effort to get there. I simply took for granted that I could walk anywhere.
Adulthood taught me that walking is a gift, a completely free form of exercise that offers more benefits then just getting from A to B. Lockdown measures in the UK are slowly being eased to allow people to drive further away in order to exercise and the benefits of this activity are well documented. Here are just a few of them.
Change of mindset: A change in your normal routine can impact you for many different reasons and sometimes catch you unaware. One of the most important things to be aware of during this unusual time is your mindset. Whether you are catching up on your favorite box set or working tirelessly at your computer from home. It is easy to lose sight of the hours and you may get to early evening before you realize you haven’t moved from the same position. Before you’ve given yourself time to argue that there’s no point now, remember that it’s never too late to go for a walk. There is a certain amount of anxiety that can come with those first couple of steps but once you are on your way (wherever that might be) you have your purpose and you have no reason to explain that to anyone.
Exercise: A healthy body and a healthy mind come hand in hand. For many of us, being in lockdown has meant taking control of our normal exercise routines. Some lavish at the idea, taking to their social media accounts with a sense of expertise. For others, not having the support and routine of a weekly gym class has taken away the confidence to engage in online classes or home workouts. Being motivated to do any exercise can be challenging during this time. Walking might not seem like the obvious starting point in exercise but it comes with no pressure and no expectations. Your choice, your rules, your decisions. What might start out as an intended short walk, can surprise you by leading to a longer one. That motivation alone might give you the extra boost to try a few other exercises when you get home.
Natural vitamin: Breathing in the fresh air, clearing your head and getting your heart pumping are just a few health benefits to getting outside for a walk. However the biggest current benefit has to be the way in which the sunlight helps your body manufacture its own vitamin D. Although there is not enough scientific research to prove that having sufficient vitamin D can help in the fight against coronavirus, we do know enough about vitamin D itself to know it can’t hurt. A nutrient that is needed to keep bones, teeth and our muscles healthy, making sure we get our daily dose of this important vitamin comes easily from even the shortest stroll around the block.
Companionship: You may not always feel like walking yourself, but sometimes someone close to you might need that walk. That could be because of the responsibility to your furry, four legged friend or a family member who seems a bit down. Following social distancing rules, you are still able to meet up with people to go on a walk. This opportunity to talk face to face with someone and put the world to rights can have you feeling lighter, with less pressure swirling around your head.
Lock down has seen a huge increase in families adding to their numbers with ‘new additions’. The puppy boom does have me praying that we won’t see the slogan ‘A puppy is for life not just for lock down’ appear on our screens any time soon. As a huge dog lover, I could not imagine my many walks without our beloved Labrador but if you are thinking of getting one, know that walking will become part of your everyday life too.
Perhaps the views on walking are dependent on where you live. I use the word views for two reasons. Quite obviously, the scenery around you can affect your decision on walking but also the area in which we live may determine if you live in a place where people ‘walk’. Growing up in an industrial town in the heart of the Midlands, still offered its beauty spots if you knew where to find them, but for me they were certainly less obvious. My husband and I chose to bring up our children in his hometown of Norfolk, I’m not sure I realized it at the time, but to me it’s quite apparent now. The scenery, the greenery, the coastal walks. It is a place of great beauty. I love being outside in it. Whether your beauty is the countryside or the magnificent towering buildings of a city, you can walk for pleasure wherever you are.