Walking; there are so many benefits to taking a stroll outside; stress reduction, increases calorie usage, increases creativity, increases fitness, increases heart strength, increases brain usage, reduces blood sugar to name a few, but do we judge ourselves too much on HOW we do it? And does this stop us from walking more and therefore reaping these benefits? Let's have a think...
This morning I decided I would take the dogs for a long walk into the nearest town and back, before I left though I saw my headphones sitting on the worktop and I wondered whether I should stick them on and listen to a podcast as I walked. Would I still get all the benefits of being outside in nature if I am not able to hear the natural sounds as I perambulate along the path though? Is it best to walk with all senses firing and to allow thoughts to flow freely? Is it best to walk with minimal distractions? Should each walk be a mindful exercise? Am I cheating if I walk with headphones on?
I came to the conclusion - who cares? Do what makes it most enjoyable for you! Maybe you are more motivated to walk when you are listening to music or a podcast, therefore do that! Perhaps you prefer listening to the sounds of nature with each step, in which case, do that! There is no need to judge ourselves and each other. The important thing is that you get outside and walk.
(Just in case you were wondering, I decided against the headphones in the end because I wanted to be able to hear what the dogs were up to).
I guess intention plays a part in what you decide too, if you are training for some sort of long distance event then your goal is going to be just getting the miles in so it doesnt really matter whether you have headphones on or not and choice of footwear is going to be whatever you are most comfortable in. If your goal is to go and have a short, mindful walk outside, away from your desk and the busy-ness of your working day, then maybe you would be better off having no extra sounds or input, barefoot if possible and just enjoy the peace that nature offers. If your intention is simply to get out and walk more, then do whatever makes your walk more enjoyable.
5 simple ways to walk more
1. Make it a mindful choice - intentionally park further away from the office door/shop entrance. Use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. Get off the bus or the train one stop before your usual stop.
2. Get up for short, mini walks - Set a reminder on your phone or computer encouraging you to get up and walk around the block/office/house/garden more frequently than you currently do. Try once an hour?
3. Drink more water - keep a bottle on your desk or by your side and consistently sip at it. You will be backwards and forwards to the toilet in no time, and how will you get there? Yup, by walking.
4. Post meal walk - why not try going for a walk after a meal. Perhaps you have a lunch break and you could get outside for 5-10 mins after you have eaten to get a few steps in. Maybe you and the family could go for a little walk each evening (especially now that we are heading into summer and the weather is better and the nights are lighter)
5. Make it social - gather friends or family members in to join you on your walks too. Hold each other accountable and enjoy spending time together outside moving those beautifully brilliant bodies of yours.