For me, walking is something that I need in my life to keep me on track, motivated and inspired. But, when you own a walking club I found that I was making excuses to not walk on my own because “I was walking with the club later in the day”. Walking for pleasure became a “busman's holiday” and I stopped my daily morning walks. After a few months of missing my daily walks, I found that I was having a granny nap in the afternoons, I was unmotivated and I had zero energy. Perhaps an element of depression had crept in? I'm not sure, but I do know that all was not right in the world but I didn't know why?
So what changed?
In late November I started listening to a book called The Ultimate Brian Tracy while I was doing the housework and general chores. This book is all about living life to the full and it turned on a little switch in my mind. I wanted to keep listening, so I grabbed my walking boots and headed out of the door. Five miles later I felt invigorated for the first time in months. The daily walks have continued since then and I feel that the old Julia is now back in the game.
With exception to the obvious benefits of walking, such as burning calories, lowering blood sugar levels, strengthening your heart, easing joint pain etc – I thought I would list some of the little known benefits from a daily walk.
#1 – Creates “me time”
We all need “me time”. For some people this may mean going for a swim, having a long hot soak in the bath or cooking a delicious meal. But is “me time” a benefit of walking? Yes. During a walk, I find that I create space in my mind which allows ideas to flow. I hadn't realised that my creativity was blocked until I started walking for “me” again.
#2 – Improves your mood
Fresh air in your lungs the wind in your hair or even the sound of the rain on your umbrella heightens your senses and improves your mood. If I have the grumps, or feel any type of anxiety then rather than turning on Netflix or YouTube it's always better to grab your walking boots and head to the great outdoors.
#3 – Taking some amazing photos!
On every single daily walk, I challenge myself to take a photo. I now have a fabulous collection of beautiful sunrises, frosty fields, rain dripping from berries on the trees.
#4 – Become more mindful and “in the present”
The above photo challenge also gives me focus. I am always on the lookout for something interesting to capture on each of my walks. Perhaps it is a beautiful little stream, a robin that always comes to say hello, or the mist on the field.
#5 – Miles means prizes!
This one may seem silly to some of you, but I do love getting a few miles in the bank that helps towards my walking goals before breakfast. Some of you may be doing the Walk1000Mile challenge. I am walking the PCT and also Hadrian's Wall, virtually – so getting back from my morning walk gives me an endorphin hit as I see my progress along the trail. I know I am that much closer to planting another tree and receiving a medal. (If you want to join a virtual challenge then click here).
It took me a while to realise that I need that daily dose of the outdoors to feel like a human being. It's important to have alone time to process ideas, troubles and worries and for me, that happens when I am out on a walk. This blog is a reminder to me to just keep walking. It's good for the body, mind and soul.