As the pandemic continues, it seems walking has become the new “going-out”, with options for keeping fit restricted to accessible forms of outdoor exercise or home work-outs, walking is no longer for ramblers in the countryside; it’s the new feel good activity, that something to do as a “bubble” and work-out routine rolled into one.
According to new Mintel research Brits are increasingly embracing the great outdoors, with the number of hikers increasing from 16% in 2019 to 23% in 2020.
It’s no wonder, that walking does not only do a lot of good for your physical well-being by keeping you active but also for your mental wellbeing; and all you need is a good pair of trainers or walking boots, a warm fleece or jacket (if there is a chill in the air) and maybe your favourite playlist to keep you going as you move. Oh, and perhaps a flask of tea or coffee!
Perfect for beginners and hiking veterans alike, walking is a universal activity for all ages regardless of your level of fitness and something you can do with the kids. Most of us should be aiming to hit 10,000 steps a day. While this may seem over-whelming at first, every little step counts, and the key is to build up your step count-slowly (around 30 minutes a day) whilst enjoying some wonderful health and mental wellbeing benefits…
- Heart & Lung Health: The heart is a muscle that needs to be worked like any other. Raising your heart rate by walking can help with circulation, increase lung capacity by taking in more oxygen and the reduce risk of heart and cardiovascular related conditions.
- Crushes Calories: Walking for 30 minutes a day has been proven to burn unwanted calories and aid healthy weight loss. Wearing a weighted backpack whilst you walk can add some additional resistance for higher intensity.
- Blood Sugar Levels: Walking has been shown to keep blood sugar levels in good balance which can help prevent diabetes.
- Energy Levels: Because walking increases blood flow and therefore oxygen around the body you’ll naturally feel more energised after a walk.
- Positivity & Thinking Time: Walking is a great time to clear your head, relax, and to plan and problem solve. A natural way to de-stress, shake off the day and get some much needed fresh air.
To stay focused and on track try tracking your daily step count. Seeing the number of steps, you’ve racked up and kilometres you’ve walked without thinking about it does wonders for your motivation. Using the apps on your smartphones or a simple pedometer or fitness tracker are all easy and inexpensive ways to monitor your progress without being intrusive.
Pick different routes, try to take in your surroundings and enjoy your scenery. For inspiring walks and routes, visit Walk Unlimited.
If you want to enhance your walking experience, then kit yourself out with a pair lightweight, supportive and protective walking boots. Brands like Karrimor, Go Stroll and Trespass offer a variety of options that will let you go further for less in style and comfort. Although there is no need to splash out on specialist clothing, simply throw on your favourite comfy sportwear, your waterproofs and thermal base layers (in winter) and you’re all set. Although for your own safety always remember to get professional advise on outdoor clothing and kit you may need for tougher hikes.
If you are planning a longer walk, a more intense hike or looking to make walking into a new found hobby to enjoy with others as a group activity then visit Ramblers, Britain’s walking charity working to protect and expand the places people love to walk and promote walking for pleasure. Ramblers organises groups for walks for health, leisure and as a means of getting around for people of all background, ages and levels of fitness.
So to keep a healthy, happy body and mind, keep walking. Just remember to wrap up warm, keep a two-metre distance from other people (during lockdown) and that all important playlist or podcast.
Happy Walking Everyone!