Our bodies are designed to move – so get up from your computers, put down your mobile phone and step your best foot forward. Chris Robson lists the benefits of walking for our bodies and minds ...
Simply taking the time to go for a walk without distractions is one of the best ways to reconnect with yourself.
My friends often make a joke about the fact I love getting up early to simply go for a walk.
I run my own "Brisk Walk" classes in leafy North London, so I know only too well the often underestimated benefits of getting up, getting out and simply putting one foot in front of the other.
In today’s fast paced, digital world it's easy to forget the fundamental things that make us feel good as human beings. As well the obvious physical benefits such as weight control, cardiovascular exercise and mobility, there are a whole heap of psychological benefits as well.
Walking can help relieve stress, improve your mental clarity and elevate your moods. There's a reason you'll hear people say they're going for a walk to calm down, or grab some thinking time.
Walking reconnects your body to your mind, and more often than not, you'll come back refreshed, re-energised and ready to face the world from a different, if not clearer view.
My mum hates the gym, and having worked in the city her entire life, she knows a thing or two about a stress! I think one of the main reasons she thrived in such an environment was the little walks she'd take to and from the train station each day.
Just 10 minutes or so of quality "alone time" without a blaring car radio, ringing telephones, stressful conversations are a reason I'm sure she continues to be in such good health.
Whenever I go round to see her, I always make sure we go for a walk which acts as precious quality family time as well.
If you haven't just "gone for a walk" in a while, I've listed below a few reasons to forget the gym occasionally and enjoy the great outdoors. (I suggest leaving your phone at home!)
Strengthens The Heart
Walking has been known to ward off heart disease as it's a form of low intensity exercise which strengthens heart muscles and aids circulation.
Now, whereas I might not agree with every piece of advice GP's give in terms of health and exercise, one thing we can agree on is the importance of a good stroll to combat coronary disease.
Destresses The Mind
By simply stepping outdoors and putting one foot in front of the other, you are almost entering into a meditative state, which is fantastic way to destress.
Be aware of your breathing as you do so and have the awareness to actually look around you and enjoy your surroundings.
If you live in an urban environment, perhaps make the time or schedule in a day to get out in the sticks and reconnect to nature.
Great For Weight Management
As I mentioned earlier, walking is fantastic for weight management. You'll be burning calories at a steady state without the need to overly stress the joints which may happen when running.
As a qualified personal trainer, I'd always suggest my clients begin their cardio routines with some walking as opposed to just putting on some old trainers and pounding the streets.
Walking is a great way to prepare your body for any more intense sessions that may be to come.
Getting outdoors and going for a walk will also help you get your much needed dose of vitamin D.
Getting a sufficient amount of the vitamin is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.
I'm sure you've taken the time to just stop and remember how good it feels to have that sun shining on your face.
Eases Back pain
"Sitting is the new smoking." I saw this tagline recently and thought it was fantastic.
Human bodies aren't designed to be hunched over desks all day long, so by getting up and walking around – even across the office – you'll be helping strengthen muscles and ward off lower back pain.
Increases Energy Levels
For an instant energy boost, drop out of your busy life for 10 minutes and hit the road, or the hallways of your office. Even a 10–minute walk can help you overcome feelings of fatigue.
If your office is up a few stories – take the stairs for an even more functional workout.
So if you're thinking about making a change towards greater health and happiness, then why not start with a brisk walk?
You don't need any equipment, or a gym membership, and you might just enjoy it more than you think.
I really do believe it helps strengthen all three sides of the triangle of wellbeing – mind, body, spirit – and it has been a non-negotiable factor in my weekly health and fitness routine for years.