Improving our lives can mean many things, a better car, job or a different relationship. I think most importantly it is about who we are, a healthy holistic view of ourselves is vital to our well being. Walking regularly has certainly helped me and many others I know. The benefits of walking are probably more than you may first think, and what is great about a walk is that it is something that need not cost much and most of us can do it.
Walking has become the most popular activity in the western world along with eating out, now that’s an interesting fact! If I ask you which of these two activities is probably going to do you the most good, I think I know what your answer will be. Of course you could combine the two – yes you can have the best of both worlds!
The overall term ‘walking‘ covers a ‘multitude’, it might simply be walking to the bus stop. I am talking about five good reasons for more deliberate walking in the countryside, and the benefits of choosing to put on your boots and get out there regularly.
It is great to be able to go to places of outstanding natural beauty, but from where I live that usually involves a journey of at least a two hours, which can become a little tedious, expensive and certainly too time consuming to do that regularly. Perhaps once a month I get up early and head to somewhere like Snowdonia, but more often I go for the local countryside. It might not be quite so dramatic but there is still plenty to see and enjoy.
So here are my five reasons for regularly getting out and stretching those legs.
There are many ways that regular walking improves our physical well being, here are just a few.
- Increases heart and lung fitness
- Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke
- Helps improve management of conditions such as, High blood pressure, high chlorestial, joint and muscular pain and stiffness and diabetes
- Helps weight loss
- Strengthens your bones and muscles
- Helps improve your digestion
There seems to be an ever increasing awareness of how getting out into the countryside helps our mental state of well being. My greatest sense of freedom and centred-ness comes when I am walking, and if I have a serious problem I need to work out a good walk normally does it.
Some of the things that regular walking can help are.
- Helps with the prevention of dementia
- Improves memory
- Reduce stress and anxiety by improving blood circulation to the brain
- Can uplift your mood, especially sunlight
- Improves self perception and self esteem
- Helps in overcoming depression
In August 2018 an article in the Lancet Psychiatry journal reported on a study involving over a million people over a period of more than four years on exercise and mental health. The study reported that people who walked regularly had a 10% fewer reported bad mental health days.
3.Connecting with nature
Many of us live busy stressful lives encased in modern technology alienated from the planet that so generously gives us all we need. We hear and see on the media how we are wrecking our planet with pollution and miss use, this information can be really disconnected to our daily lives. I have found being out enjoying nature reconnects me, gives me a new respect for our planet and awakens a greater sense of responsibility.
Getting out into the local countryside gives me a greater sense of belonging and being a part of the land where I live.
Mindfulness is about being earthed in the moment getting the most out of where we are. Nature offers us so much, from grand views from the top of a mountain to a seeing a small mushroom forcing its way out of the earth. All these things are both uplifting and grounding and are so inspiring taking us away from busy modern life and back to the creative vibrant life of earth.
4.Discovering our history
I find history fascinating, especially local history. We can be just as disconnected with our historical surroundings as we can with our natural. I think exploring history helps us feel more connected, knowing our past helps create our future and helps us to understand who we are.
Some of the structures from the past are awesome, imagine building Offer’s Dyke without a JCB or even a shovel, or the skill required to build a massive viaduct from bricks over a wide valley. You have to admire our forefathers.
5.Enjoying the local fare
Earlier on I said that it is possible to combine the pleasures of eating out and walking. After a days walk there is nothing better than finding a pub or cafe and trying the local food and drink. Personally I love sampling local ales, so far my favourite was a pint at the Plough at Cadsden when I was walking the Ridgeway National Trail.
Walking stimulates a healthy appetite and a good thirst and local grown food can be some of the best. Win, win eh?