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Celebrate National Walking Month By Finding a New Walking Activity

Rural landscape with a large tree and the sun setting in the background

There are many ways in which walking more frequently can benefit you, so this National Walking Month we’re looking at what those are, plus some of the more fun and unusual walking activities you can do to make going for a walk that little bit more interesting!

For many, walking has proven to be a welcome escape from lockdown life and with the UK boasting 2,500 miles of National Walking Trails*, we really are spoilt for choice. However, if you’ve been treading the same path every day and your trusty walking route is feeling a little stale, it could be time to look at incorporating new activities into your walks.

Below are some alternatives which can be a great place to start and give your walking routine a new lease of life.

But before we look at those, what are the benefits of walking more frequently?

Walking helps your health

Studies have shown that daily walking can reduce the risk of a range of health conditions by improving blood pressure, reducing body fat and reducing cholesterol.

Taking a few more steps every day can even lower your risk of serious conditions like heart disease and cancer. For example, taking 8,000 steps a day gives you a 51% lower risk of death from any cause, compared to doing just 4,000 steps a day**.

Finding a way to do more walking can make a big difference to your physical wellbeing and the more you do, the more you will feel the benefit.

Walking benefits your mental health 

Not only does walking more regularly improve physical health, it also improves your wellbeing. Even 10 minutes of brisk walking can increase mental alertness whilst boosting your mood and energy levels***. Regular physical activity has a positive effect on self-esteem and helps in the reduction of stress and anxiety too. When encountering mental or emotional challenges, this can help you deal with them in a healthier way by building resilience and having a positive outlet to face problems.

There are endless benefits to increasing the amount of walking you do and there are many ways in which you can do them, so you don’t get stuck in a routine that no longer inspires you. Why not consider the small steps you could take to improve your health whilst trying a new activity this National Walking Month?

Improve your navigation skills with a walk that challenges you

Have a go at strengthening your navigational skills with some orienteering and add a new level of interest to your walks by using a map and compass to find your way to a destination.

The aim of orienteering is to find your way between two set points marked on an orienteering map and to do it in the quickest possible time. As well as brushing up on your map reading skills, you’ll also get to explore new sights along the way, benefit from some fresh air and stimulate your mind too.

Another map based walking option is Geocaching, which is essentially a large-scale treasure hunt with the aim of finding certain points through GPS or by using a geocaching app on your phone – you even receive an award when you successfully make it to the destination!

Use the undistracted time to get things done or learn a new skill

If you are out and about to run errands, instead of driving why not walk and use the time to brainstorm about something you’re working on? Walking can be a great chance to step away from your computer screen and check off any tasks you have on your to-do list.

You could even use this time to learn something new – there’s audio versions of most things now, so why not learn a language or listen to an audiobook or podcast on your phone whilst you stroll?

Alternatively, consider flexing your creative muscles by photographing what you come across on your walks in the countryside where you’re surrounded by nature.

If you have a particular interest in nature or history for example, you can capture what you explore and share it. There are lots of dedicated groups on social media for likeminded people who have the same creative outlet and interests.

Set yourself a goal

If you’re a competitive person then setting yourself daily or weekly walking challenges is a great way of getting that exercise in and stimulating your brain.

Start with a simple challenge e.g. walk 15 minutes each day for the first week and then up it in week two to 30 minutes each day. You could even challenge yourself to walk a certain distance, whether it’s a couple of miles a day or something more ambitious like a 7 mile hike. Just make sure you’re prepared with a fully charged phone in case you need to use it for directions or emergencies.

Try something different

For those of us feeling really adventurous and eager to try something new then ‘Walking football’ could be just the thing! Inspired by the game, which only permits players to walk and not run in a match between 2 teams, this walk could be fun for the whole family. Take a football out on a walk and when you get to a safe, open area without traffic, such as a local park or a field in the countryside, why not have a go at walking the length of the field whilst kicking the football back and forth to one another?

These are just some of the ways of adding new activities to your walks and once you find the right thing for your lifestyle, the benefit to your health can be significant with even a small change to how much you incorporate into your day. Why not try out some of these tips during National Walking Month and see if any suit you.

 

*https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/#:~:text=There%20are%2016%20National%20Trails,4%2C000%20Km)%20of%20National%20Trail.

** https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/study-more-steps-per-day-linked-with-longer-life.html

*** https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-using-exercise#:~:text=Physical%20activity%20has%20a%20huge,can%20reduce%20stress%20and%20anxiety.