The benefits of walking….for me

I had a change of direction for the blog this week and wanted to talk about my love of walking and how great it makes me feel.  Those who know me, know I love a good yomp – I love urban, suburban and rural, pavement pounding and muddy puddles and they are all good for my soul.

I think it probably stemmed from childhood – being kicked out of doors with my brothers and father so mum had the house to herself to cook Sunday lunch.  Luckily for us a walk ususually involved a pub so there was always a treat midway but we used to trudge across farmland and beautiful bluebell woods.  Then there were holidays in Swanage where we used go on massive all-day expeditions with my aunt, cousins and any other friends and family tagging along.  These were filled with laughter, sunshine and great conversations and I loved that feeling of comradeship and exhaustion from all that fresh air and exercise.

These days my walks tend to be more solitary; some long, some short but they give me the opportunity to:

  1. Be nosy. Nothing beats peaking into people’s houses when the lights are on the curtains are yet to be drawn
  2. Observe life and the seasons around me. Life seems to run at 100 miles an hour and by walking you can see things that you’ve never noticed before; be it architecture, wildlife, people. Go slow.
  3. Be outside.  Yes I enjoy the gym too but being out in the fresh air (even if urban pollution) clears the head.  Also I can be out for longer as it’s less tiring than running and my body shape ain’t made for marathon running!
  4. Discover new areas close to home or further afield
  5. Exercise and it’s free.  Whenever my brother, who works for Handiworld (nice plug for you Tobes!) is in London for meetings he walks everywhere.  He enjoys the freedom it gives him and saves on those rather expensive tube tickets.  It also gives him the time to clear his head before the next meeting. And according to this article in the Daily Telegraph a brisk 20-minute daily walk reduces an individual’s risk of early death by 25 per cent (University of Cambridge research)
  6. Catch up with friends.  I love a walk and talk and it’s a great way to catch up.  I also use this for work too – if I need to talk with a colleague I often suggest a walk.  As soon as you are out of the office it’s easier to talk and rationalise what the issue is and put forward solutions
  7. Come up with new ideas – it’s a well know fact that nobody has their best ideas sitting at a desk. Take a mo to read this article at which explains why
  8. Give myself a sense of perspective. This to me is the most important factor. I tend to stew and get wound up easily and the rhythm of walking allows me to think stuff through and put things into perspective.  My husband now recognises this and if he sees me getting angsty or in a tizz will drop me off somewhere on the way home and by the time I’ve walked through the door all is good with the world again. And vice versa, if he’s working from home and I hear him effing and blinding at the computer I take him for a walk round the block so he can let off steam.  Win: Win

So if you can, step away from your desk and pop out for a walk as often as you can.  And if you can’t escape see if you can walk part of the way to or from work – even regular short blasts will do and observe how you feel. I hope the endorphins kick in for you too.