Does walking seem like a chore? Do you drive to the gym or your yoga class?, considering walking a waste of time? Think again. With a few tweaks, it can have powerful benefits for your health – both mental and physical.
Make it Mindful
Going for a short saunter is an excellent way to clear your head and refresh yourself. If you want to reap extra relaxing benefits, why not make it a mindful experience? As you are strolling along, focus your attention on how your body feels: the swing of your arms and the sensation as your foot strikes the ground. Be aware of your breaths, breathing easily and in harmony with your pace.
Walk in Nature
Taking a stroll in the great outdoors and, among trees especially, can be a mindful, even meditative experience. Forest bathing originated in Japan, where it is called Shinrin-yoku – literally translated as forest bath. It describes the experience of allowing the sensory experience of being amongst trees to wash over you. So, unplug your technology and simply listen to the sound of the leaves in the breeze as you wander quietly amongst the trees.
Explore the City Streets
If you don’t have access to green space, don’t despair. Taking a walk around urban streets can be fascinating. Taking the time to really see your neighbourhood – and maybe meet some more neighbours – is great fun and relaxing. You will notice loads of things you would never see from the bus or a car. Treasure those little bits of urban rewilding like those flowers pushing up through cracks in the pavement.
You could download a walking app like Go Jauntly to help you to discover different routes in your area. Active commuting – formerly known as walking to work! – is now being encouraged as a way to fight poor health and reduce pollution, so even if you just get off the bus a few stops earlier, you will be benefiting your health and the planet.
Speed it Up
As well as helping your mind, taking a walk can be part of your recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. Advice from Public Health England has been amended to suggest that the familiar target of 10 000 steps a day should be brisk walking rather than leisurely to make the most of the physical benefits. Why not download the NHS Active 10 app, which will help you keep a tally of how much brisk walking you do and inspire you to set walking challenges for yourself.
If you want to ramp things up even more, how about trying Nordic Walking? With a motion a bit like skiing, the use of nordic walking poles takes some weight off your knee joints and lower back while giving your upper body muscles a gentle workout. Nordic Walking will raise your heart rate and burn more calories than ordinary walking.
Walking has its own unique benefits, and it’s free!!
So slip on a pair of trainers and head out!