I fell in love with walking when I started taking my children to school. The walk to the school gates was a great time to chat with my kids and on the walk home I could listen to some music, or a podcast and get my head space right for the day ahead. The benefits of walking daily didn’t stop there though! I realised that walking almost a mile to school and back twice a day, meant that I was walking 8,000 steps just on a small and essential part of the day, for five days of the week!
Why is it good for us to walk every day?
This daily walk was impacting my fitness too, I felt better and after a month realised I had lost a few pounds in weight, which was definitely a bonus. The school run is often hurried. Those mornings when you know you need to quicken your pace, to get to school before the bell! It was a great start to my day, I really enjoyed it!
I looked into understanding the benefits of walking daily, and was delighted that they included:
- improving fitness, helping to strengthen your heart and lungs and surrounding muscles
- strengthening of the bones, helping to lower the risk of osteoporosis, in later life,
- stabillising blood sugar levels
- helps to lower blood pressure
- releasing feel good hormones (endorphins), which can help reduce stress and anxiety. The release of these hormones also play a positive role boosting, creativity, concentration and productivity. It really is a great way to start every day!
- helping boost energy levels.
The benefits don’t end here, walking is good for nearly everyone! If you are undertaking a new fitness regime, remember to seek medical advice. If you haven’t exercised regularly before, build up slowly, maybe take shorter more frequent walks – 3 walks lasting 10 minutes each day. From there you can build up your stamina and improve your fitness.
Another positive is there is little cost involved and taking a walk is something we can slot into our daily schedules, even when we are busy! The Spanish have perfected walking in to their daily lives, they walk at least four times a week and over 37% walk or cycle to work each day. Their life expectancy is the third highest in the world. To understand more about their lifestyle please read What is a Mediterranean diet? Looking after their health is a complete lifestyle and one where enjoying yourself is a priority!
The social benefits to walking
As my children got older and I had a little more free time, rather than just meet my friends for coffee, we would walk, then grab a coffee. It is now a part of my life that I now hold dear to me. When you’re walking with a friend, conversation flows. There is less likely to be interruptions, we always refer it to our weekly ‘therapy’ session. Sometimes I will rant about all that has gone wrong the previous week, sometimes I will listen. Mostly, we chat about how we are making plans for our futures. We know our children are growing up and we will have new opportunities, to travel, study, have adventures. It is exciting!
Would you consider a walking club?
Walking clubs and rambling groups are also becoming increasingly popular; they are a great way to socialise and meet new people. There are ‘Talk and Walk’ groups where you are encouraged to speak about what is happening in your life, whilst walking. Also, rambling groups are helping people become more adventurous and varied with their walks, exploring the beautiful coast and local countryside.
These groups can be invaluable to the less experienced or solitary walker. Hiking around the countryside with nothing
more than a map would make me feel a little anxious (to say the least), but in a group I wouldn’t think twice. It helps us broaden our horizons and take a step out of our comfort zones.
I have friends with dogs and often they will say their favourite time of day is when they take their pooch out for a good long walk. Even when the weather is foul, they know their dog needs exercise. It’s much easier for some to be motivated knowing that their decision will benefit their beloved pet, when they could easily curl up on the sofa. Yet, if you’re walking your dog you’re exercising yourself. It’s a win/win situation.
Walking is great on a budget!
Being able to get out every day for a walk, is by far the cheapest way to exercise. The only equipment you really need, is a decent pair of shoes. Something that will help support your feet. Obviously there are some specific walking shoes: trainers to offer added comfort or walking boots if you want to go walk on rough terrain. Let’s face it, the sky is the limit with footwear, but please don’t use the excuse of not having a $100 pair of trainers to stop you from starting to walk! Maybe this could even be a motivation, if you walk every day for a month, you treat yourself to some new fancy footwear!
Many people find that fit bits or phone apps help record their progress and can aid with motivation, everyone likes to see how they are progressing. How far can I walk today? Has it taken me less time, to reach this many steps? It is a great way of knowing how many steps you have walked and calories you have burnt, though be aware they can be more of a guideline, than completely accurate. These items though definitely fall in to the ‘Luxury List’ not essential in any way. On top of that no gym membership or class fees. Walking daily is a fantastic way to exercise on a budget!
Is regular walking, the exercise for you?
Unsurprisingly, I am a fan of walking, I like lots of different forms of exercise, whether: swimming, yoga, fitness classes, but there is something about going for a walk that is so simple. It always gives me the time to think, my mind can relax and it helps to plan my day ahead, or process all that has happened during a hectic day. I honestly don’t think I have ever felt worse for going for a walk. Maybe soaked after an unexpected shower, or cold because I didn’t think I needed a jumper, but always slightly more positive.
Knowing that there I am improving my physical health too, is important to me. As I get older I don’t want to take blood pressure tablets or statins unless I really need to. I am much happier keeping healthy by making decisions regarding my diet and fitness regime. This is what I want from my blog, to share ways that we can all keep healthier and subsequently happier. We are nothing without our health.