May is National Walking Month which is apt as we have all been encouraged to take part in some physical exercise during lockdown, and walking is a good way for us to remain healthy. Yet it can be so much more.
Now that we can venture a little further afield, our walking opportunities have widened, giving us different routes that we can explore.
We asked our new Practice Manager, Julia Halliday, to share what she enjoys about walking at this time.
10 things I love about walking in Wiltshire:
- The plethora of spring sounds: bird song, buzzing bees, tractors in the distance, lambs baaing.
- The smell of blossoming flowers and freshly cut grass.
- The scenes of freshly sown fields, lambs nestling against their mother, buttercups stretching out of the grass, various shades of green enveloping paths and the changing moods of the bright sky.
- The warmest of greetings from both familiar and new faces; everyone keeping a respectfully safe distance, polite and smiling.
- Seeing families, like us, bonding anew, taking time away from screens and the everyday white noise of life, stepping away from the daily toing and froing, breaking free from their usual routines.
- The almost new feel of my footsteps on the footpath, the feel of my limbs and joints limbering up. The feel of holding my children’s hands. Things often taken for granted.
- The fresh breeze and warm sunshine on my face.
- Noticing the changing landscapes with every walk, spotting all the colourful rainbows and messages of support proudly displayed in neighbours’ windows.
- Walking at different times of the day making me feel like a voyager, discovering new surroundings and seeing things in a new light.
- Making it part of my daily routine, getting outside again, feeling invigorated and it’s free!
Health benefits of walking:
- Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness.
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Improved management of conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes.
- Stronger bones and improved balance.
- It improves your mood.
- Helps burn calories and can help with weight loss.
- Lowers your blood sugar levels and can lower blood pressure.
- Digestion will improve with walking more – literally gets ‘things’ moving through your bowel more efficiently.
- When you become a regular walker, you establish a regular routine – which means you are also more likely to take on new healthy behaviours.
- It can spark your creative thinking.
- It can boost immunity function in older adults.
- Staying physically active longer, helps you live longer
- You will sleep better at night.
Preparing for walking (sounds obvious, but often isn’t!):
Always make sure your shoes or trainers are comfortable, provide adequate support and do not cause blisters.
For long walks, take water, healthy snacks, a spare top, sunscreen and a sun hat in a small backpack if the weather is sunny. Alternatively if it looks like rain, take a waterproof in place of the sun hat and sunscreen.
Listen to music or a podcast as it can take your mind off the effort. Music can help get you into a rhythm, and help you walk faster. Also, it helps time pass when you’re walking to your favourite tunes. Be aware of other people and hazards though! Don’t crash into others or walk out into a road because you are miles away in your head.
Take photos with your mobile phone if you find walking boring to start off with and this also gives you something to share on social media posts!
Focus on what is around you, like Julia. Be mindful of the sounds, sights, fragrances, and the feel of the ground under your feet.
Enjoy your walks in May and beyond!