Regular readers will know I’m in a constant battle to get fit and sustain it. It isn’t easy though, over recent years, I’ve come to realise that there is one simple thing which massively helps me – not just in the battle to shed fat, but also in improving my mental health.
That most simple of things we can do in our lives is absolutely the most effective and beneficial form of exercise I take. The benefits are multiple and essential:
From a physical perspective, walking is proven to:
- Burn fat.
- Increase the heart rate.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Build numerous muscle groups and strengthen bones.
- Increase energy levels.
- Improve sleep.
From a mental health perspective, walking helps me by:
- Providing me with an opportunity (perhaps the only opportunity in life) to truly shut everything else out for an hour or two.
- Allowing me to focus on life’s positive aspects, rather than the negatives.
- Allowing me to plan what I’m going to do for the rest of the day / week / month / year.
- Encouraging me to appreciate what I have in life, particularly reminding me that it’s the simple things and the things that we take for granted that are most important.
There are many other benefits in addition to those listed above:
- It gets us outside, breathing fresh air. When so much of our lives are spent stuck in traffic or in heavily crowded and polluted areas, this is a godsend.
- We get to see nature up close. If you can fit it into your daily routine, please try to see just one sunrise or sunset sometime soon. It’s good for the soul and so ridiculously life-affirming.
- I get so spend more time with Rosie (my energetic Jack Russell Terrier), which enhances both our lives.
- It’s an opportunity to listen to my beloved podcasts, or some new music.
- It’s an opportunity to spend time with close friends.
Sometimes I forget how important walking is to me, then something will crop up to remind me. I meet a very good friend for a walk early every Saturday morning. If we miss a week for any reason, my weekend feels incomplete. I have a close relative who had health issues a few years back and started walking much more because of that. Every time I see him, and am reminded of how fit and healthy he looks, it reminds me of the importance of walking. Last Christmas, I met up with ‘the lads’ and we went for a local walk finished off with a big breakfast at a local café – it was a wonderful way to catch up during the festive period (years ago, we’d have headed out on an all-day drinking session instead!). In February, I’m heading up to the Lake District with my brother-in-law and nephew, and we’re walking up Helvellyn before staying over there – I’m looking forward to that as much as I have any holiday over recent years.
Basically, walking is hugely important to me.
The image below is a sunrise view from Rivington Pike – a local hill popular with walkers. It’s great getting up here first thing in the morning or later in the evening. The very essence of feeling truly alive.
If you don’t already, and if you’re physically able to, please do give walking a go. Even if you just get outside for 10 minutes. The benefits are immeasurable and potentially life changing.
As always, thanks for reading and take care.