I write a lot about some pretty intense exercise! I like to run, I play Roller Derby, lift weights, do push ups and squats and like to get good and sweaty. But, well, sometimes I need a break.
Bits of me ache, or I’m just plain tired, but I still like to stay active, and that’s where something I’ve never really thought of as “exercise” comes in. Walking.
I’m not talking just waking to the shops, I do that all the time, though on a day when I’m working from home even that can be a nice break, but actually heading out to the country for a walk.
I’m lucky living in Norfolk that there are lots of places to head out and walk near me. Several of them are places I frequently run, the Mariotts Way and Whitlingham Broad are a couple, but heading out for a walk gives more time to take in the scenery, it’s restorative to the mind as well as the body to take a break from high impact activities and take a little more time. You don’t even need to get your sports kit on, all you need is comfortable shoes!
Currently I’m training for a Half Marathon, which can be pretty tough, and walking is a way of getting some time on your feet without the potential injury risks of running. It also uses slightly different muscles than are used for running improving overall leg strength and giving those running muscles a bit of recovery time. Not that walking is “easy” my husband is a devoted walker and I’ve been out on some epic country walks with him that felt like lovely country jaunts at the time, only to get out of bed the next day and *really* feel those muscles!
Walking isn’t as big a calorie burner as running per mile covered, but with plenty of time you can head out for an epic walk of a distance that you wouldn’t even consider running. Without the pressure of thinking about average pace per mile you can stop and investigate interesting places you spot, chat with horses (not that they chat back) and improve your mental and physical health all in one lovely afternoon.
I’m involved with Weight Watchers as part of their brand new Activate Your Autumn campaign, helping people shake off their lethargy, boost their energy and embrace a more vibrant life style as start or maintain a healthy plan. So here are a few tips for getting out and walking.
Plan a route: There are probably some established walking routes near you if you search, but keep an eye on the terrain, some walks might be used regularly and might even be paved in places, but others could turn into an unnavigable mud bath when the weathers bad or be overgrown. I remember navigating a narrow muddy path next to a sheer drop on the 1066 walk near Hastings once, I slipped and had to grab a barb wire fence to keep myself from plunging to my certain death (ok, probable certainly grazed knee), I’ve also navigated over grown paths full of chest high stinging nettles. It’s also worth keeping an eye on those little B roads, sometimes they can be super busy with no footpath at the side, check the satellite view on Google Maps if you’re not sure.
Take a map: If your lovely cross country jaunt across fields becomes a bit more of an adventure than you were hoping for then you can at least figure out where the nearest nice paved road is to get round it.
Wear sensible clothes: Dress appropriately for where you’re going, if you know the route is nice, wide and flat then by all means wear a vintage frock and carry a parasol (see above!) if not then dress appropriately! I’m a big fan of walking in leggings, they don’t get caught in things and they’re comfortable, however I can tell you now they offer zero protection against stinging nettles and brambles. Jeans are good, unless it rains and you’re stuck miles from anywhere, so if you’re really getting adventurous consider waterproofs.
Start small: Planning a 10 mile beautiful circular route is a great idea, unless you’ve never walked that far before and you get 5 miles out and are exhausted with no way to get back to your car apart from another 5 mile walk. By all means push yourself, but it’s worth taking a look at the map to see if there are ways you could reduce the distance of your walk if something untoward happens or if the weather decides to let you down!