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National Walking Month Week 2: benefits of walking

Active H&W guest blog

Published on 07 May 2024 08:56 AM

We are now into week two of national walking month and for this week's theme 'the benefits of walking' we have a guest blog from Huw Griffiths,Strategic Lead for Active and Healthy Ageing at Active Herefordshire and Worcestershire...

It is common to hear “go for a walk and clear your mind” during a period of stress or struggle, but does walking really help? Surely walking is just a means of getting somewhere that doesn’t require another form of transport, a way of moving around short distances or something you need to do if you have a dog? How good is walking?

Walking had a big impact on my life during a time when I really needed something to give me a boost. During a difficult mental health phase, when I didn’t have a huge amount of energy, I used to think walking was boring. As a runner, the idea of walking just didn’t work for me. There was a time where I couldn’t run because of a persistent injury, and walking offered me a chance to be active but also keep a clear head. It became something to look forward to within the day and gave me that boost of ‘happiness’ that being active offers. It even reduced the amount of money I was spending on doing piles of washing from all the running kit that wasn’t being used!

One of the great things about walking is that you don’t need any fancy equipment, you do not need to book a court or get to a certain facility. You can simply step out the door and put one foot in front of the other. When I was injured, on some days I might have walked for 10 minutes, and other days I might have walked for over an hour. It allowed me to have time and space to think about the challenges I may be facing throughout the day and helped me to refocus and realise the good things around me. I used to walk the neighbouring streets, through the city centre, around the cathedral or along the canal path. On other days, it could have been a trip to a local park or a drive to the nearby country park to be amongst the trees, climbing over the fallen logs and kicking through the autumn leaves.

It’s funny how given the simplistic nature of walking, it offers so much physically, psychologically and socially. I found myself greeting other walkers whilst I was out and seeing them again either on my way home or the next day. I would see walking groups around my area that I didn’t realise existed, and although I never joined, it was tempting when seeing the range of ages and abilities. Although I am back running, I still make time for some walks through the week. I take my young daughter to spend time together on the trails or use walking as a time to listen to a podcast or an audiobook.

Across the two counties, we are blessed with beautiful public parks, abundant countryside walks and bustling city centres. So, walk to the city centre, walk around your village, walk to the local shop, walk wherever and however you want.Join us for this month and #WalkThisMay.