Nietzsche once said that “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”.
Less philosophically, the statistics paint a worrying picture of the UK’s changing walking habits, even though it is one of the simplest and healthiest forms of exercise. In the last generation, 70% of us walked to school – now it is less than half. Sadly, only 66% of men and 56% of women in England claim to meet the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
The Living Streets Organisation believes that we need cities that are designed around people not motor vehicles which cause congestion, pollution and preventable illnesses. The aim of May being ‘National Walking Month’, as well as this week being ‘National Mental Health Awareness Week’ is for thousands of people across the country to make a big difference to both public and their own physical and mental health, respectively. This is because the Mental Health Foundation states that physical activity can be as effective as medication and counselling for your psychological health too!
Let’s hope the Lockdown enforced captivity for people self-isolating, furloughed or working from home has reawakened the nation’s love of walking when we are ‘released’ for our daily exercise. It may also make us appreciate the world around us and nature, which are all far more accessible by the slowed down rate of environmental awareness which walking makes possible. This naturally leads to stress relief and increased happiness to counter balance the loneliness and other mental health issues which being without social interaction can cause.
8 Reasons Why You Should Choose to Walk:-
- It will make you feel less strained;
A recent study from researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research found that people who switched their modes of commute from driving to walking or cycling experienced greater sense of well-being, specifically a greater ability to concentrate and feeling less under strain.
- It could help you think up a creative solution to that work problem;
A Stanford University study showed that people do better on tests for creative thinking when they walk, compared with when they sit.
- You’re being a good influence on those around you;
Your partner and other co-workers are more likely to bike or walk to work if you do it!.
- It will not take as long as you think it will;
Just think of all the time ‘wasted’ sat behind the wheel in traffic! You can also feel virtuous because around 2kg of carbon is saved for every short journey made walking or using a bike instead of a car.
- You could be lowering your risk of chronic conditions;
Walking and cycling instead of driving to work is associated with a lower risk of diabetes and is also associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure.
- It could lessen your genetic tendency toward obesity;
Researchers from Harvard presented a study in 2012 showing that it is possible to cut the effects of a genetic predisposition to obesity in half if you walk at a brisk pace for an hour each day. Whilst researchers from the University of Quebec found that walking 10,000 steps a day or more is associated with a lower body fat percentage among 50 – 70 year-old women.
- It will get you in the right frame of mind for a busy workday ahead;
Walking outdoors through green spaces can actually put the mind in a meditative state, according to a 2013 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
- It is a way to get in exercise without placing stress on joints or making you hot and bothered.
If you live in a city, ‘Walkit’ has an interactive walk planner to help you find the best walking route. ‘Hikideas’, on the other hand, uses a tool that can be used for planning countryside walks too.
So what are you waiting for? Even if we have not been very active whilst the gyms are closed, now we are allowed to exercise more than 1 hour per day and the weather is beautiful, why not increase your walking distance gradually and hopefully, begin a healthy habit after lockdown ends!