I guess with anything in life we get faced with the pros and cons of situations, to which we generally tend to make our most important life choices around. I don’t know about you, but a particular lockdown “pro” was the lust for walking miles on end each day. That was, purely, to kill boredom, but it became an activity that I now feel anxious not partaking in. I cannot sit here and say before lockdown I was slovenly, I regularly went to the gym, but walking outside during a difficult global period gave me a daily focus when nothing else was accessible and also allowed me to feel
incredible. So that started to get me thinking (Pre Apple-Watch), what really are the health benefits of walking?
Walking is known as a weight-bearing exercise because you carry your own body weight- duh! To name but a few, it increases your heart and lung fitness, reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke, reduces body fat (burns those calories!), increases your endurance, provides strong bones
and muscles and improves your balance. To maximise on these health benefits, you need to be walking for at least 30 minutes per day. For some, that will be easy! Especially if you are in jobs where you are on your feet all day. For others, incorporating walking into your day-to-day life may be a little more of a challenge. Start by googling routes in your local area (make sure to pick a few different ones so you don’t get bored of seeing the same relentless streets day in, day out). Once you start walking and exploring the world around you, you begin to appreciate how luck you are to be here and to be healthy. But enough of the deep stuff. If you are struggling to find routes, think outside the box. Like your commute to work - Could you get off a stop earlier? or take the stairs instead of the lift when you get there?Or how about walking the dog? Walking your friends’ dog? Walking with your neighbour? There are many ways to get outside and keep your steps and fitness up, don’t fall into the trap of doing nothing – I promise it will make you feel better!
Wearing a fitness tracking device such as an Apple Watch, FitBit or Garmin really helps to motivate you if you are stuck for a little va va voom each morning. I reluctantly treated myself to an Apple Watch after I developed a huge love of hiking and I can honestly say it is my biggest motivator, not
just for when I’m out walking, but during my day-to-day life. If you have one of these devices already, you know the obsession I’m talking about! I often look at my watch throughout the day to track my goals, which pushes me to get my steps in later on in the day if I haven’t completed them already - Hello night time walks (which there is weirdly something refreshing about!) There are so many walks you can do in your local area, even if it’s not completely picturesque, steps are steps and your health is important.
Once you are used to walking around your local area or parks, try some harder walks. I’m not talking straight to Scafell Pike but slowly increase your incline (and your heart rate). Pendle Hill is a good starting point, or Nicky Nook. These are smaller climbs but slightly more difficult than your local park. You will soon find the walking bug and want to push yourself harder to conquer bigger climbs, such as Blencathra or Helvellyn. Going to the gym can be hard, so walking is a perfect alternative to becoming a healthier version of you.
Written by Hollie Wilkinson