By Laois psychologist and Operation Transformation Expert Dr Eddie Murphy
The Woodlands for Health segment that was aired recently on Celebrity Operation Transformation was another opportunity for OT to focus on wellbeing, not just weight loss.
In Ireland we are lucky we have lots of green open spaces and generally out climate is mild and kind enough to allow for a stroll outdoors. Simply taking some time outdoors, in our natural habitat can really clear our minds and has been shown to renew energy and put a spring in your step.
The 10,000 steps a day goal is something I hear a lot of people talking about. We now have inbuilt step counters in our mobile phones and on our watches so it’s much easier to monitor than before. If you take 10,000 steps a day you can reduce your blood pressure, have more stable glucose levels and improve sleep patterns and mood.
Increasing your activity in everyday tasks is the way to go. I am noticing more and more business people out walking, conducting walking meetings. They are a great idea for one-on-ones or small groups. People feel better when they are walking and talking.
When we walk together, we are in step and it can make it easier to find common purpose and a consensus.
We can be more energised and alert due to the changing scenery and as a result are more creative and collaborative. This is a win-win.
I find that many men find formal meetings to be a bit artificial and uncomfortable, most prefer to talk shoulder-to-shoulder and can find a walking meeting to be a much more relaxed and effective format.
This something you might like to try at work or at home this week – a walk and talk.
When I take to time to go for a walk in my local woods, I really feel the benefits of walking in a green space.
Woodlands for Health is a walking programme developed in Co Wicklow and is now being recommended by health professionals to improve people’s mental health.
When I look at my own lifestyle I began to notice that I could include more outdoor time-out in nature to restore my own sense of wellbeing.
It really does make a difference and can help to achieve a new, refreshed and less rushed perspective.
How much time in nature is enough, and how do I get started? The recommended level of exercise for an adult is about 10,000 steps per day.
I was thinking that about trying to take half of my daily 10,000 steps target outdoors.
5,000 steps is approximately 3.8km and at a steady pace that’s a 40min walk. How can we fit a 40min walk into our day?
Take a walking meeting, meet up with friends in the morning for a quick stroll followed by a coffee, get out at your lunch break to clear your head, head out with your family in the evenings while they are still bright. After a hectic day, a nice outdoor walk can help to calm and settle children down before a bedtime story and sleep.
At weekends visit local parks and countryside walks with family and friends and see how refreshed everyone feels after a good walk surrounded by greenery.
There are many wonderful walks, forest paths and treks in Laois that you can explore and try out, from the Derryounce Lakes in Portarlington to the Slieve Bloom Mountains, the Abbeyleix Bog Walk or the Durrow Leafy Loop to name but a few.
While some people prefer to walk alone, personally I prefer to bring a friend along just to have a chat and enjoy their company.
You can also build a walking habit around your daily routine, walking to and from work, to the local shops or like many schools now promote a ‘WOW’ Walk on Wednesdays programme.
10,000 steps can sound like a lot, so why not start with a easier target – remember every 10,000 steps starts with 5,000 – just to get you going.
One such walk happening this weekend is Mental Health Ireland’s 5,000 Steps to Wellbeing Walk taking place in the UCD campus on October 14 at 2pm.
The walk is for people of all abilities and walkers will learn about and experience the Five Ways to Wellbeing throughout.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing are to Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.
The Mental Health Ireland team will give a short talk about each of the five ways to wellbeing for every 1,000 steps so you’re learning while walking for wellbeing!
More details at www.mentalhealthireland.ie.
Go on take a step in the right direction.
Finally, If your school, parents council or workplace needs a speaker for your event, give me a call on 0871302899.