I have always been a great fan of the good old-fashioned walk. In my rebellious teen years when I HAD to go to church, I’d choose a different mass from the rest of the family, head off down the street at the appropriate time, then stroll right past the church and take a lovely one hour walk. I was lucky enough to grow up on the coast, and I felt so free taking a walk along the beach, even on the coldest and windiest of days – I felt like I was on the edge of the world (I’m wondering now if anyone noticed my windswept look upon my return…)
I have distinct memories from my time at university, walking the stretch from the local Tesco supermarket, back up the hill to my residence halls, laden down with plastic bags of cheap ramen noodles, ‘Great Value’ cheese, and beer, the bag handles cutting off circulation to my fingers. The grounds of my university were beautiful with lots of green space and rabbits everywhere – you couldn’t help but smile watching them hop around.
For every place I’ve lived and visited, many of my most distinct memories are from a walk in that place: Brussels, Rome, Valencia, London and more. It is during a walk that you really get to experience the architecture, the landscape, the smells and sounds that make each place unique.
I like to walk!
How does that relate to Getting UnBusy I hear you ask? Well regular walking has many benefits, including a good clear-out of your head space, leaving your mind decluttered and ready to take on life. So in case you weren’t aware, here are 8 reasons why you should squeeze in a walk during your busy day today – you can thank me later…
1. Minimal To No Equipment
All you need are shoes that feel comfortable enough to walk in and appropriate clothing for the elements if needed. There’s no need to be full on geared-up in sportswear (unless you want to be) – you can walk at a pace that feels comfortable for you based on your circumstances.
2. It’s Free
No gym memberships needed! If you’re lucky, you’ll have a scenic place to walk near your workplace or home. If not, there’s usually a way to make to make it work: I have done loops round parking lots and through offices just to get me away from my desk and get the circulation moving.
3. It’s A Mood Enhancer
Most of us are aware of how physical exercise produces endorphins, the hormones which reduce feelings of pain and induce feelings of happiness – you can get those from walking too! This article in Psychology Today on the benefits of walking reported on a study which showed that walking, even in the dreariest of settings, still had positive effects on mood. So if you’re feeling Monday-ish today, squeezing in a quick walk during your day might just give you the pick-you-up you need.
4. It Can Diffuse Negative Feelings
If you feel like you’re about to yell at someone, swear at someone, or burst into tears, then going for a walk is a good move. Not only will you have the benefit of those endorphins I mentioned above to lift your mood, it will also give you the time and space to calm down, reflect on your emotions, and find an objective way to move forward with the difficult situation (or person!) you are dealing with. And we all know it’s important to deal with our negative emotions, right?
5. You Can Connect with Nature
Many of us have some sense that being out among nature is good for us, but science backs that instinct up. One study showed that “mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced”. For me, being outdoors in less than perfect conditions can be even more beneficial – there’s something so invigorating about being out in the rain or feeling wind through your hair, it reminds me of the happiness and freedom of childhood. And as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing…
6. You Will Disconnect From Technology
If you’re tied to a computer at work all day or find yourself constantly checking your phone, then going for a walk is a great way to disconnect from technology. I have started to leave my phone at home when I go walking just to remove that temptation. And guess what happens when you disconnect from your tech? You start to connect with other things: with nature, with yourself, or with someone you invited on your walk. Asking a colleague to take a walk can be a rewarding way to get to know someone a little better and strengthen your relationship – and that can be beneficial in so many ways.
7. The Kids Can Join In
Humans and pets of all ages can go for a walk! My kids love coming for a walk with me and our pup. It’s great to get them out of the house, away from screens and they get to run and yell without driving their parents nuts. I hope that the walks we take together now will teach them an appreciation for physical activity and the outdoors that will stay with them into adulthood.
8. It Can Help With Weight Loss
While there are of course significant benefits from a challenging cardio or weight-lifting workout, walking should definitely not be discounted as an excellent form of exercise for weight loss, especially for those new to working out. It’s great for anybody who can’t do high-impact cardio for any reason, are not ready to face going into a gym or don’t want to spend the extra cash to do so. Having a tracking device like a FitBit will not only allow you to monitor your progress, but can also set fun challenges to motivate to walk further than you might do otherwise. I have the Charge 2 and I love it for those very reasons. [Side note: if you’re walking for exercise purposes, then shoes with sufficient support and cushion are the way to go. Walk with purpose and try to get your heart-rate up to really maximize the benefits of your physical activity.]
9. It’s Good For Your Health
As the Mayo Clinic reports, walking can help prevent or manage many conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as strengthen bones and muscles, and improve balance and coordination. Wow!
So here’s my challenge to you – make an effort to get out for a walk this week. Don’t take your phone, take the time to look around you and let your thoughts wander. No matter how busy your work day is, or how hectic your life is at home, I guarantee that even a 5 minute walk will improve your day in ways you might not have expected. Let me know if you make it out this week!