Walking for Wellbeing
Walking for wellbeing has gone from being something we think about and hope we might have time for, to being a necessity for many. It has helped many of us keep body and mind together over the past year. The pandemic brought with it many challenges, and with less access to all the usual things we might have filled our time with, many of us have found solace in the outdoors. With stress awareness month this month we’ve been investigating what walking means to us, and how it affects our wellbeing.
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On the days when we’ve been alone all day it’s given us an opportunity to smile and chat to friends and neighbours, even if just for a quick scoot around the block. On other days we might have escaped to local beauty spots and stretched our legs a little more. Time spent outdoors in nature is shown to lower blood pressure, increase oxygen saturation and can actually reduce anxiety and depression, according to the Nature and mental health report produced by mental health charity Mind. So, has walking for wellbeing become a national pastime that many of us will continue with, or is something that will get forgotten as life returns to normal?
We asked some friends of Nourish why they walk, and what it means to them.
Ineke - Nourish Founder
Walking is often my only form of exercise and many times I find it is a way of gathering my thoughts. There are still many days where I don’t get the opportunity (or make one) and on those days I get to the evening and really wish I had. It is one of the best forms of exercise for your body and your brain! I have often found it a great way to process all the thoughts and ideas I have when walking with someone, or actually clearing my head and listening to my children with undivided attention. Getting to appreciate the change in seasons is another positive benefit of walking and certainly makes me realise what an amazing creation we are part of! With lockdown easing, walking occurs more on weekends when we have a family walk. I need to try and make a conscious effort to get out during the week. Perhaps I need to make walk appointments in my diary! I would love to hear what walking habits work for you!……..
Christian and Beckie - The Salt Box
We always welcome an opportunity to scroll less and stroll more. Over the past year, so many of you have been taking the time to explore your local hedgerows and fields, foraging for ingredients to enjoy at home! It’s been a wonderful time to truly appreciate the great outdoors and once the world shifts again, as it inevitably will, here’s a little reminder to hold onto some of our newfound habits, profound realizations and rediscovered hobbies. Just imagine, this could be our wake up call to get back to nature.
Vidya Bellur - Vivid Outcomes
Walking is the simplest most inexpensive forms of self care that we can extend to ourselves. Of course, it’s great exercise, but walking gives us so much more: a sense of mobility when mentally we may feel stuck; it reconnects us with nature; and collectively both these effects orientate and gear our minds for joy and pleasure seeking. We ‘organise’ our whole mind and body system differently as left and right brain both engage, and our attention to ‘what’s wrong’ falls away to give rise to a feeling of openness and spaciousness that is replicated in our direct experience. That’s what walking means to me...
Jason Wicks - Surrey Walks
I’ve always viewed walking as a criminally underrated activity. Too often, it’s viewed as a method of transport (and a slow one at that) rather than an activity in itself. I’ve come to learn that the more time I spend walking, the happier and healthier I feel, and so I’d like to do whatever I can to encourage more people to get outside. I’ve found that the best location is the one that is close enough to get you outdoors the most frequently. More often that not, your local area is the best place to explore. This is especially true if you live in and around Surrey. Surrey boasts some of the best natural beauty in the country, and the greatest proportion of woodland out of all the counties in England. My blog tracks all of the walks I go on, whether they’re existing routes or made up myself, and gives you all the information you could need before setting off. With each post, the goal is always to just encourage one person to make some time to get outside.
Favourite local walk - Box Hill & Headley Heath
Kate Emberson - Airhead Coaching
Walking whilst coaching is my passion. Talking about the things that occupy us, particularly where we feel fear, anxiety or shame, is easier when we walk side by side. The navigation of a muddy puddle, dashing to shelter from a unexpected shower, the song of a lark that stops us in our tracks - these spontaneous moments support fresh perspectives and keep our conversations grounded. I observe how my clients make more inclusive and creative decisions when out in the fresh air, tending to think about all aspects of their life, not just work or home in isolation. Walking whilst talking helps to reframe those old stories we have told ourselves, the things that keep us down, limit us, and opens our eyes to simpler, more balanced approaches to living healthier, happier lives.
Kate - Nourish & Freelance Marketing Consultant
Breaking up our busy days of working from home and home-schooling with walking has been our lifesaver during the pandemic. We’ve always loved the outdoors as a family, but have always been pretty tied to just a walk or two at the weekend. One of the biggest benefits of home-school for us was being able to get out with the kids every day of the week, no matter the weather. We connect better as a family outdoors, we talk more openly and share things more easily. One of the things I miss most about life returning to normal is the opportunity to do this regularly. I've also been lucky enough to have clients who also enjoy being outdoors and have implemented, 'walk and talk' sessions, as a way of connecting without having to rely on the vagaries of Zoom and Teams calls!