Walk Your Way to Health and Mental Wellbeing

How many hours have you spent in front of the TV this week? What about your computer? The truth is, most of us recognise that it’s not just the under-30s who are spending too long slumped in front of a screen and that this sedentary lifestyle just isn’t doing us any favours.

science is simple. Keeping fit and active not only adds extra years to your
life but also ensures better quality living. The general advice is to try to
work at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity into your week.

what if you don’t fancy the thought of pounding the treadmill in a gym? If
you’re anything like me, the last thing you want is to find yourself face-to-face
with yet another screen!

was lucky that my moment of epiphany came in my 20s when I stumbled on walking as
a way to explore the globe. Guiding group tours in South America and beyond, opened
up a whole new world in so many ways, and as they say, I’ve never looked back.

fact, rather than being weary of walking, I find myself becoming increasingly
passionate about it, partly for its benefits as I age, but also for the simple
joy of being in the fresh air, seeing new sights, and meeting some wonderful

The Physical Benefits of Walking

what are some benefits of walking? Well, a healthier heart and lungs, for
starters. It’s also great for weight loss and reducing high blood pressure, and
there’s less risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

we get older, walking also helps us maintain strong bones and muscle mass. Everyone
experiences muscle loss as they age, but if you’re physically inactive, you can
lose as much as 3–5% each decade.

Isn’t Running Just as Good?

true that running offers all of these benefits in addition to burning more
calories. However, walking can still certainly get you in shape and is less
stressful on the joints. Better still, you can take it up relatively late in
life, regardless of your fitness level.

Location Matters When Walking

you’re in the swing of things and ready to build your fitness, you’ll discover
that different routes and terrains exercise different parts of your body.

uphill, for instance, gives a great glute workout, but if you’re trying to
increase endurance, a longer, flatter walk can be just as effective.

The important thing is that it works for you. S, find a level and pace that you’re comfortable with.

Walking for a Healthy Mind

from the physical benefits, what else can walking do for us? Let’s start with
the feelgood factor. Most people who walk regularly are in no doubt that being out
in the fresh air does as much for them as the exercise.

low? Just a 10-minute walk
has been found to relieve symptoms of anxiety
and help refresh the mind and
lift the mood. There’s plenty of
to suggest that walking also helps with creativity.

You’ll also find yourself noticing new things and discovering new places. Whether you live in the city or a rural setting, one of the joys of walking is having the mental space to absorb what’s going on around you.

an urban setting, you’ll be surprised what you notice once you escape the
confines of a car and pound the streets! And interestingly, a city walk with
glimpses of quirky architecture and graffitied buildings can be every bit as satisfying
as a stroll through leafy woodland or along a dramatic coastal path.

Any Other Reasons to Start Walking?

although I spend a good part of my year guiding walks, I still always try to
catch up with old friends on a walk rather than over a coffee.

you go on a gentle amble or a city-centre tour, as well as creating memories
you’ll probably find that you’re both more relaxed and attentive to each other.
Free from the distractions of other people and noise, it’s easier to focus on
one another and on the conversation.

course, walking is also an excellent way to make new friends. If you’re unable
to persuade your family or friends to join you, or you like the idea of meeting
new people, sign up to the local walking group where you’ll find plenty of
like-minded women.

there’s the added benefit that, unlike many gym and health club memberships,
walking is completely free!

How Do I Get Started?

remember that it’s never too late to get fit through walking. Here are a few
tips to get things underway:

  • Make sure you have some
    comfortable trainers or hiking boots.
  • Start with walking to the shops
    or work.
  • Plan a regular walk with a
  • Slowly build up to increase
    your walking distance and speed.
Walk Your Way to Health and Mental Wellbeing

What is your experience with walking groups? Have you tried joining
one in your own town/city? Or perhaps you’ve been on a hiking holiday? Where in
the world would you most like to take a walking holiday? Please share in the
comments below.