Walking for health has been recommended to people in the UK for a long time. Due to its relatively low intensity, walking can be overlooked as a worthwhile form of exercise.
However, the NHS advises that just ten minutes of brisk walking every day could make a difference to your overall health. And with current research indicating that spending time outdoors could boost your connectedness with nature, there’s no reason to delay putting on your boots.
How does walking benefit health?
Walking as exercise means you’ll be purposely setting out on foot to traverse your natural surroundings. Just a short daily walk could help to increase your alertness and energy levels, along with lifting your mood. You’ll also feel uplifted after connecting with your natural surroundings.
Physically, walking is a fantastic way to burn calories and strengthen your bones and muscles. Walking is often suggested as a way to prevent or manage multiple conditions including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. With the endorphins released after a long walk, your body and mind will feel relaxed.
Walking: How do I get started?
Depending on where you live, you should be able to access a local walking club. Going for your first few walks with experienced walkers will help you to learn the basics quickly.
- Find someone to walk with
If you’ve never been on a long walk before, it’s a good idea to go with someone else. Not only does this provide a fantastic opportunity for you both to talk and catch up as you ramble, but it also means you can look out for each other.
Specialist walking holidays provide an opportunity for you to discover beautiful landscapes in regions you’ve never visited before. Whether you’ve dreamed of hiking the Himalayas or reaching the beaches in Sardinia, a walking holiday could help you get there.
- Schedule times of the day to walk
If you’re thinking of walking for your health but you struggle with routine, it could be sensible to plan for the times you’ll walk each day. Try to vary your route to avoid repetition and stay disciplined too.
What do I need to go walking?
If you’re thinking about going for a long walk in the countryside, packing a few things could help you prepare for the weather and terrain. These might include:
When you’re choosing a new pair of walking boots, always make sure you can try them on before committing to the purchase. If you’re planning on walking in areas where the weather conditions are unpredictable, opt for a pair with waterproofing technology. Above all, reliable ankle support and grip should be your priorities.
Additionally, buying technical waterproof jackets and trousers should help to keep you warm and dry in the event of a heavy rain shower. Though it might be a little bit expensive upfront, investing in superior technologies like Gore-Tex should mean that you’ll receive an effective, high-quality garment.
You should always pack some snacks if you’re heading out for a long walk. Walking at a moderate pace burns at least 200 calories an hour for most people – and often more, especially in warm weather. Make sure you pack bottled water to keep hydrated too.
Lastly, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get phone signal in a rural area. Make sure you pack the local OS map and a compass – so you can always get back on track if you start losing your bearings!