Best foot forward: Walking for wellbeing
Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that can help us improve our wellbeing and make us a little bit fitter. Walking isn’t winning any prizes for being high adrenaline, but it’s free and you can do it anywhere from hiking in the countryside to strolling round the block. You can revel in the sights and sounds around you or plug yourself into a podcast on an audiobook.
Walking offers huge health benefits. It’s been proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels, increase energy, boost self-esteem and self-confidence and even helps you sleep better. In some cases, it can help alleviate depression. Physically, walking can help with weight control, reduces the risk of stroke and improves cardiovascular fitness, as well as keeping bones and muscles healthy. Ideally, you should walk briskly for 150 minutes a week, or around 25 minutes each day. Walking to the shops or the school gates, getting off the bus a stop earlier or taking a break at lunchtime all count.
You can walk with a friend, join a group or do it yourself. There are bound to be local routes worth exploring, whether it’s a local park, disused railway line, or a coastal path.
The Scandinavians say that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. For walking, you want decent shoes or trainers, a jacket that keeps the wind and rain out and some socks that prevent blisters. Visibility is also important, so light or bright colours and reflectivity can help you walk safely.
Aside from the glow of knowing you’ve done your daily exercise, the best thing about walking in bad weather is that warm, relieved feeling as you curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and your nose and ears slowly defrost. It’s time to put your best foot forward.