Physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated. Something as simple as a daily walk can help you lead a healthy life and offers many wellbeing benefits, including:
Reduce risk of heard disease
Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes
Manage weight by burning calories
Reduce risk of becoming depressed
Release feel-good hormones
Increase relaxation and improve sleep
Increase energy levels
Here are some tips to encourage you to put on your walking shoes:
Make walking a habit
The easiest way to walk more is to fit it into your daily routine. Try walking all or part of your journey to work or to the shops, walk the children to school, meet up with a friend for a regular walk, or go for a stroll with family in the evening.
Add variety to your walks
You don’t have to travel to the countryside to find a rewarding walk. Towns and cities offer interesting walks, including parks, canal towpaths, riverside paths, commons, woodlands, heaths and nature reserves.
Listen to music
Walking while listening to music or a podcast can take your mind off the effort, get you into a rhythm and help you walk faster. You’ll be surprised at how fast the time goes when you’re walking to your favourite tunes.
Pick up the pace
Your walking speed will vary according to your age and fitness level, but a brisk walk is generally considered to be around three miles an hour or 100 steps per minute, which is faster than a stroll.
One way to tell if you’re walking briskly is if you can still talk but can’t sing the words to a song. The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.
Join a walking group
Walking in a group is a great way to start walking, keep going, make new friends and stay motivated. You’ll develop a network of supportive fellow walkers and discover new walks in and around your area.
Remember to choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. Wear comfortable clothes and bright colours, or reflective tops, for visibility after dark.
Introduce walking into your working day and help colleagues find inspiration & set bite sized goals
• Help them find the 1 thing that will inspire them to take part, such as time; outdoors, away from the phone, the desk, time to think, socialise, get some fresh air.
•Suggest some simple achievable goals that include a goal & a ‘why’ goal. For example:
“I will walk a mile twice a week to get some fresh air”
“I will run once this week and twice next week to help me to sleep better”
“I will jog once this week, twice next week and meet my friends”
• Share the health benefits of walking/running/jogging so colleagues can see the purpose.
Make it fun & mix it up
• When something is enjoyable people are more likely to stick with it. Consider introducing challenges:
• Cross team/departmental/cross site/cross shift challenges.
• Set a total mileage target and see who reaches it first. Working together can be very motivating.
• Create a competition for colleagues to find new 1 mile routes form the workplace to discover new sights to keep things fresh.
• Choose a destination, find out how many miles from the workplace and set a challenge to run/jog/wheel/walk the equivalent in a set time. (i.e. Manchester to Edinburgh is 220 miles aim to achieve in 2 weeks as a group).
• Reward group progress and achievement when running/jogging/wheeling/walking with others or sharing a goal.
• Be kind to yourself when things don’t go to plan.
A Walking culture
• Create monthly or bi-monthly campaigns such as;
Take a jogging lunch month
Walking and talking month
Run/jog/wheel/walk to work month
• Aim to embed the culture across the organisation and encourage managers to lead by example and acknowledge efforts by others.
Track your progress
• Keep for record and to make a note of how you felt before and after- it’s great to look back on your progress.
• You may wish to explore use of tech such as a pedometer or step counter to keep track of how many steps you’re doing.
• If you have access to a phone there are apps & websites that can help track distance and count steps too.