One cannot underestimate the power of walking. people can leave grief and pain, depression and low mood out on the road and return with hop, health and happiness.
Regular physical activity not only helps us to keep fit and in shape, it enhances our sense of wellbeing.
Walking is possibly the best exercise, being what our bodies are designed to do.
It is good for the heart and lungs. It builds and firms muscle; helps to control body weight by boosting metabolic fitness; improves flexibility and coordination; increases bone density and stimulates the immune system.
Walking can lift mood, help to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression and contribute towards a relaxed, more creative state of mind. In short, we feel better and live longer. And walking is free, it could even save you money!
In a fast paced world, walking gives us the power to slow time. It can quieten our inner chatter and nurture a calm in which we can centre ourselves, meditate on matters and think clearer.
A lunchtime stroll can restore concentration on a working day. Walking half an hour three times a week can boost mental abilities by 15 percent.
Walking has particular psychological benefits because it opens up our horizons and allows us to enjoy our surroundings.
Research has shown that walking in countryside surroundings promotes the greatest feelings of wellbeing. Connecting with nature and the environment – the seasons, scenery, waves and wildlife – can be invigorating and therapeutic, revitalising both body and spirit.
Being outdoors in cold air or warm breezes lets our bodies know what time of the day and year it is so that they can serve us better, dictating appropriate eating and sleeping patterns.
You might laugh given our Irish summer but while too much sun exposure is harmful, natural light is vital to our health. Sunlight triggers chemical reactions in the brain that regulate a healthy mood and restful sleep. It is also essential for the production of vitamin D, which our bodies need to absorb calcium and maintain strong bones.
Walking as part of a group is a great way to meet new people as well as explore new places. As a social activity, walking can build confidence and self esteem. If you’re not the one in front with the map and the compass, you can always have a chat at the back!
Walk daily as much as possible, every little counts. Experts recommend thirty minutes at least five times a week, which can be split into ten minute chunks. It’s also generally agreed that brisk is best, which means walking fast without overexertion.
Wearing a pedometer can be useful to chart progress. There are free phone apps to track your routes and speed, be it a lunchtime stroll or even on the Camino way.