A YouGov survey showed that 74% of people exercised more through lockdown. And that’s incredible. Making the first move is always the hardest, and it’s brilliant that through this difficult time, people have been able to be good to themselves in this way. 65% of people also said they had been walking more to improve their mood. We know the feeling!
Bit by bit, and trip by trip, more of us are getting out there and going on walks. Finding excitement in the outdoors, but also finding some peace and quiet. Getting sweaty or wearing in some new shoes. First, we want to say you’re already doing brilliantly. Just getting out there and going for a walk for 10 or 30 minutes is great for mind and body. But for people who want to go a little longer and are looking for some tips? Read on…
Know What You Want in a Walk
Before you set out on your first epic adventure, know what you want in a walk. Do you like the buzz of a big city or town? You’ll know this is you if you’re keen on smiling at strangers. Eavesdropping on funny passing conversations. If you know your way around a roundabout and a set of busy traffic lights. Or do you prefer the gentle hum of nature? For the more solitary of us. Or those of us who work busy jobs and need some peace and quiet. Or who have some noisy kids at home and need a bit of stillness. Find your favourite stride and relish in it. For many people, picking a favourite kind of walk can be a real difference maker.
And we mean, real small. Walking can feel scary if we set goals that are beyond our comfort zone. So a big part of sustainably turning little walks into big walks is going at your own reasonable pace and starting with a distance that feels attainable. Remember Phil and his Walking Story? He started really small and is now a walking group leader. “Small strolls become minor hikes”, he said. And that really is the ticket. Minor hikes can become bigger ones too! Being patient with yourself and knowing that progress can come from an extra 5 minutes outdoors is a fantastic start.
Work on Your Fitness
An important part of turning your little walks into long ones is increasing your stamina and endurance. And there are different ways of doing this depending on your preference. Do you like the idea of the gym? Strengthen your heart and legs with some cardio and strength training. Have you been working out at home? Then try stepping it up a bit every week to increase your fitness levels. Or if short walks are your favourite exercise at the moment, then walk for a little longer every day. You don’t have to be vigorously sweating, or pumping loads of kilograms at the gym. Be gentle with yourself, set reasonable goals and you’ll feel your fitness improve. Alongside this, make healthier diet choices if you can. Prioritise iron, vitamins, fresh fruit and vegetables and your favourite carbohydrates too. Your diet can really make a difference.
Have a Walking Bag That You Love
Get a backpack for even weight distribution. A side bag if you’ve got strong shoulders. Even a handbag if you’re really fancy and that’s something you’re used to. We find a backpack is nice, because it allows us to carry more weight without pain. A big (and full) water bottle, some hand sanitiser and your favourite energising snacks will give you an extra pep in your step. Maybe pack a raincoat too. It is Greater Manchester after all. This favourite bag of yours will equip you with the things you need to stay satiated and hydrated (and dry) on your journey.
Think Comfort and Think Rest!
And we mean from start to finish! Always ensure you get rest before you head out for a long walk, so you have the strength to keep going. On your walks, wear comfortable shoes that support your feet. After your walks, put your feet up and do more relaxing. Have a hot or cool shower– depending on your preference. Energise yourself with a nutritious lunch or dinner, then put your feet up and think about how much you’ve smashed it!
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