With the UK entering a national lockdown, we’ve seen gyms and leisure centres closed once again. In the darker winter months, it’s more important than ever to get outside to stretch your legs and avoid that cooped up feeling. Here are a few reasons going for a walk can be beneficial for your mental health and physical health!
Walking can help to reduce stress/depression
A brisk walk helps to release “feel good” endorphins, even a quick walk around the block can be useful on a difficult day
Walking can help keep your heart healthy
Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease
Walking can help with weight loss and increase stamina
Missing the gym? Walking for as little as 30 minutes each day has been proven to support healthy weight loss (and it doesn’t require a membership!). The more you walk, the better your endurance and stamina will be.
Walking could reduce your risk of diabetes
Increasing your movement to 3,000-7,500 steps per day has been linked to reducing type 2 diabetes. Not sure how many steps you’re doing? There are some very affordable pedometers or fitness watches on the market, or plenty of free apps to track your steps. iPhones should have AppleHealth built in and many Android devices have GoogleFit enabled.
Walking can help with brain and memory function
Feeling a bit of brain fog from being stuck indoors? Getting out and walking can help to supply the brain with oxygen and glucose which helps the brain to function more efficiently. It’s also great for making you feel more creative – walking can be a great way to relax and clear your mind, giving you the ability to think more imaginatively and efficiently.
Can I meet friends for a walk during lockdown?
Going for a walk with someone else from your household or within your social bubble is a good way to keep in touch, plus is a great motivator for stepping it out! Hitting your step goal is made all the more pleasurable whilst chatting and catching up about your day, and talking about how you’re feeling.
In England, you are allowed to meet another person outdoors as long as it is for exercise, and not recreational activities, such as a picnic. You will need to keep two metres apart from anyone not in their household or support bubble, or if this is not possible, keep one metre apart and wear a face covering.
To find the most up to date advice on the rules on meeting other for exercise, please consult the government website here.
Easy ways to get walking into your routine during lockdown
The easiest way to get out and walk more is to make walking a habit – think of simple ways to include walking in your daily routine.
Working from home where you’d normally work from an office? Why not go for a quick walk before and after work? The action of putting your coat and shoes on and leaving, then coming back in to sit down can help put you into a arriving at work/leaving work mindset – this is especially important when the lines between work space and living space are a little blurred.
Make walking part of your journey to work. If you are a key worker still travelling to a work place, why not park slightly further away, or get off a bus stop or two earlier. It’s a simple way to add to your step count and get some fresh air before entering the work place.
Use the stairs instead of the lift in your workplace – another simple way of adding to your step count during the work day – just remember to keep your distance when passing people on the stairs, and sanitise your hands frequently if you are touching handrails.
Going to do an essential shop? If you have a supermarket in walking distance, why not walk to the shops? There are plenty of lightweight folding shopping trolley’s available online to help you carry your shopping.
Free Apps to help with walking
This free app helps you log any kind of workout using just your phone or with your favorite fitness device like Garmin or Apple Watch.
The Active 10 NHS app records every minute of walking you do (anonymously) without any need for a special device – just pop your phone in your pocket and away you go!
Go Jauntly is a walking app that helps people discover over 700 walking routes throughout the UK. They have teamed up Transport for London to encourage city-dwellers to get walking. Information such as walking times to the nearest Tube station, Overground stations and Santander Cycles docking stations is available as well as directions for local walks and station accessibility.
Meditating while walking is a way to get the mind to walk with us and to bring a relaxed focus to this everyday pursuit. Headspace offer a free trial – it can also help with meditation and mindfulness in the home
Couch to 5K
Fancy upgrading from walking to jogging? This NHS endorsed app can be completed in as little as 9 weeks, or longer if you want to go at your own pace. It works with your music player and you can choose from 5 trainers to motivate you!
This winter wrap up warm, embrace the elements and savour time spent in the great outdoors. A winter walk is the perfect way to reconnect with nature. The Ramblers offer a FREE Walking in Winter Guide, packed with ideas and inspiration to explore the beautiful outdoors this winter. They also have an extensive library of walking routes offers over 3,000 walks for all paces and terrain, right across the country.