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Let's Walk

Let's Walk

May is National Walking Month and during the past year walking has become more popular than ever. A recent Transport for London report found that 57% of people say they now go on more walks for exercise or walk for longer than they did before the pandemic. Rachel Ward Lilley tells us more about the health and wellbeing benefits of walking.

I have no idea how many walks I have been on – short walk, long walks, walks to get from A to B, walks for pleasure, walks to explore, walks to escape, walks for exercise, walks for work, walks alone and walks with others. All I do know is that I love to walk and always feel better having spent some time putting one foot in front of another. 

Walking is essential to our nature and walking upright is what separates us out from all other species. Homo sapiens has always walked. We have been walking for 70,000 years. First, we walked, second, we made fires, third, we prepared food and fourth, we talked. We couldn’t do without walking. 

There were times when we needed to walk to survive – i.e. to find food and keep out of the way of predators. Today we can get all we need by staying still and ordering in. But this will not be good for us. 

In Dr. O’Mara’s, (professor of experimental brain research, Trinity College, Dublin) book In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration, provides the science behind the benefits of walking - for example:

  • Walking can keep us physically fit. We lose muscle mass after as few as three or four days of inactivity, which gets replaced with fat which can lead to problems such as heart and digestive troubles. The cure? Get up and walk about.

  • Walking can keep depression at bay. Walking – moving – helps  to produce protein molecules in muscle and brain that help repair wear and tear. They act as a kind of fertilizer that assists growth of cells, regulates metabolism and reduces some types of inflammation.

  • Walking can help creativity. At Stanford University in 2014, researchers found that creativity increased (subjects came up with more ideas) by up to 60% for those that walked compared with those that sat for 6-15 minutes.

So, walking makes our bodies and brains work better.

Another good read on the subject is, explorer, Erling Kagge‘s book Walking: One Step At A Time.  He writes about toddlers’ first steps, trekking expeditions and walking to work and explains that ‘he who walks goes further and lives better and longer’.   

So, let’s walk. To my walking pals (you know who you are) - let’s fix up some hiking dates soon.

Find out more about National Walking Month and pledge to #WalkThisMay here.

Rachel Ward Lilley is a business and educational psychologist. She has worked for many years advising SMEs and her current work relates to issues of resilience, communication, personal development, team building and motivation. Over the past 12 years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field.  Find out more here.

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