Three months ago I ditched my car… or rather my car ditched me.
The negative, my car packed up. The positive I’ve regained my love of walking and discovered a new lease of life. The advantage of walking are regularly talked about and we all know that maybe we should walk more. It’s all too easy to rely on our car but ditching those car journeys to walking when possible has a profound impact on our health and three months down the line I’m feeling the benefit.
Greater Time Management
Walking can’t be rushed – well it can but then we’re talking a whole new article and that would be running. We have to work out the amount of time it’s going to take us to reach our destination and we have to be reasonable with it. Often when we drive we think we can reach our destination much quicker so we don’t allow enough time or we leave enough time and end up getting caught out by traffic. The result can often be we reach our destination just in time or are busy making our excuses as to why we’re late.
It can be built into your routine
At some point during our days we can have a walking route. In my case it’s walking to work which is approximately 3.5 miles. Some days if time allows it I can walk home too. For those with young children a walk with a pushchair is a great stress relief for baby and mum and a chance to catch up with surroundings. A walk to the Dr’s, to the dentist, to the shops or to baby group. For those working full time and having to rush children to nursery it’s a different game altogether. But there is lunch break which is a perfect opportunity to get away for ten minutes on your own. Or weekends with the family. There are some great National trust places with extensive grounds, you might have to drive to them but you certainly can have a great walk around.
Once you start a regular walking routine you will begin to notice the world around you. This is particularly good if you suffer with depression and your soul is feeling lost within your body which feels like it’s just existing. Walking will help to resurface the soul. While driving you’re busy concentrating on the road and driving at speed that you don’t really get the chance to just stop and look around. The first thing I noticed while walking on a regular walking path was that I was seeing the same faces. I would notice the buildings that I was passing, shops that I probably wouldn’t have noticed. The changing seasons, the autumn leaves on the ground, the hard frost, the bare trees – the changing seasons always give something new and fresh to look at. The world is rarely dull. I am looking forward to spring, the daffodils poking through the ground and the first bud of new leaves. It’s also a nice feeling when you’re walking and you see the standstill of traffic while you can keep moving forward.
If you’re walking at lunch time it’s a great chance to walk with work colleagues. At the weekend or during the week you can meet up with friends and take a walk together. I remember years ago when working full time that a friend of mine and I would regularly walk together at lunch time, it gave us chance to have a good moan about our morning or talk about the weekend. We’d go back into work the better for it. That same friend and I are meeting up soon for a walk, it’ll be a great chance for us to catch up while feeling as though we are doing something productive. Something productive for our health.
Exercise is anti-aging. It brings a flush of colour to our cheeks. Walking in the fresh air with a good sun protector to protect from the ailments gives a warm glow. In the winter you can wrap up warm, put a hat and gloves on and you will feel that lovely flush. A walk in the wind can really blow all of your troubles away – giving you a sense of carefree time which is anti-aging in itself.
Meditating is good for the soul. It’s a good chance to unwind and concentrate on the moment. Walking has the same impact, as you walk you are concentrating on the here and now, being present in that particular moment. I find with my walk to work that if I’ve had a stressful morning trying to leave the house, within ten minutes of walking that I’ve left it all behind. By the time I get to work it has completely left me, those stresses are parked and I’m ready to get on with my work day. Similarly if I’ve had a bad day at work, the walk home helps me to park the events of the day and concentrate upon my home life. Therefore allowing me to gain balance similar to the effects of meditation.
Good for the brain
A walk will wake the brain up and boost creativity. While walking we get the chance to think things through and if you like to write, take photographs or any other creative pursuit the walking boosts the activity. Walking gives you motivation and helps us to regain perspective that we might have lost.
Reduces body fat
While walking will not give you the sculptured figure of doing building muscle with weights at the gym. Walking will reduce your body fat by burning up calories. It’s also very good for the buttocks and will work on those leg muscles – throw a few hills in and you’re getting the incline on the treadmill. Do not shy away from the hills.
Boosts the immune system
Everybody can benefit from improving their immune system. The immune system is constantly under attic especially when we are in fight or flight mode from the stresses of everyday life. Walking can reduce that. If like me you suffer with an auto-immune disease the power of walking is paramount – in my case my immune system creates inflammation when under fight or flight. Walking reduces that by blocking the t- cells that cause the inflammation. Nine months ago I could barely stand up, walking from my desk to the office kitchen hurt and I was using the lift instead of the stairs. Now I’m regularly walking 3.5 miles and some days 7 miles, it’s coming easy to me.
For people with Osteo-arthritus, walking is probably the last activity you feel like doing but walking is a light form of exercise that the more you do, the more you will improve your joints and keep them moving for longer.
Walking is free
We can’t all afford the £300 a year gym fees but we can all afford to walk and we can even save money if it prevents us from using our car.
Makes life better
As you walk and your walking routine improves you will at times be overcome with a feeling of wellness. It’s a lovely feeling and the results over time will be increased sleep, less stress and an increase in energy. That should be enough to get everybody taking a few more steps.