May was National Walking Month, and the idea of it was to encourage people to move more on foot than by public transport or car. It’s a concept we should take with us throughout the year to reduce our carbon footprints and improve our health, so here are some ideas to help you to start walking more no matter the month or weather…
Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.
Why is walking so beneficial?
Walking is considered to be one of the best forms of exercise as it is so accessible and affordable. It’s supposed to increase cardiovascular health, boost moods, and contribute to improved weight loss and mental health.
It’s recommended to do at least 150 minutes of exercise every week, and each 10-minute brisk walk can contribute to that. (FYI, brisk means you can talk but not sing a song due to your breathing levels.)
By increasing the amount we walk in small ways – for example, a walk to the shop instead of driving or commuting by foot instead of by bus – we can experience the benefits for ourselves and get stronger and healthier.
Walking can also help us discover more about where we live and the natural environment around us. You could uncover local nature reserves you didn’t know about, find exceptional viewpoints, spot wildlife and animals or tour the local attractions. The options are as endless as the benefits.
Ideas to help you walk more
Find a new local walk
You might think you’ve explored everywhere around where you live and have exhausted all your local walks, but that might not be true. Walking Britain has thousands of UK walks saved for you to explore – you just need to search, check the map, and make a choice.
OS maps have a similar search function, but you can adjust the routes by exercise type, as well.
Explore your closest city
This one may require a bit of travel initially, but once you’re there, exploring cities by foot is a great way to get a feel for the area and experience it like the locals.
Why not choose a few attractions you want to visit or places you want to eat and plan a route for the day which hits all of them? If you’re not sure where to go and would like some ideas, most local councils have walking routes and tips on their website. Alternatively, you could wing it and stroll through the streets, seeing what you find on your way.
Geocaching may sound a bit technical, but it really isn’t. It’s essentially a treasure hunt to find a set of specific GPS coordinates and the ‘cache’ located there. Once found, you can either take something from the cache and replace it with something new, write in the logbook or do nothing at all – the choice is yours.
There are websites like Geocaching.com and apps you can use to help you get started and find local geocache sites. And the Geocaching Association of Great Britain has plenty of guidance on getting started.
Most geocaching communities are free to join, and it’s a great way to walk more and learn a bit about orienteering.
Try a mystery treasure trail
This family-orientated activity is very similar to geocaching, but instead of GPS coordinates to find, you have to follow the clues and routes in your activity pack.
They’re often mystery or story based for engagement and tend to tour local attractions and popular sites. Treasure Trails website has a search-and-find function to purchase ready-made packs, but you could DIY your own like a scavenger hunt using things like graffiti, your favourite shops and signage as your clues and trail guides. Perhaps the team member who takes the most pictures of the clues wins?
Explore national parks or Areas of Outstanding National Beauty
Did you know there are more than 34 designated Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB) in the UK, many nature reserves and around 15 national parks? We’re lucky these are spread across the country and located well for almost everyone to get to one within an hour or two of initial travelling. They’re all incredibly interesting green spaces with nature-filled walks, animal sightings, hikes, lakes and more to explore, so why not take a day trip to explore your closest one or make a weekend of it?
You could camp in the Peak District and explore Mam Tor or Kinder Scout. You could stay in a caravan and explore the Norfolk Broads or the Norfolk Coast AONB. How about a beachside BNB and a walk in Exmoor National Park? The choices are endless, and all are pretty affordable to visit.
Walking is incredibly beneficial for your mental and physical health and contributes to everything from weight loss to bone strength and improved moods, so why not get out and start walking more, no matter the weather or week of the year to see if it makes a difference in your life.
Guest Author | Debbie Woodliffe
Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.
If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.