walking for pleasure

Walking for pleasure: a simple habit we should all adopt

Let’s be honest. Sometimes getting motivated to exercise can be a real struggle. I know for me it is. I’m not naturally inclined towards it. However, being a somewhat knowledgable person, I am fully aware that exercise is vitally important. We are forever being bombarded with facts and figures on how exercise should be part of our everyday lives. If we are to look after our heart, mind, and spirit, exercise must be incorporated. So how to do that when you’re feeling uninspired to get started? Walking for pleasure has been my saviour. Throughout my life, my family has gone on walking holidays in some of the most beautiful parts of the UK. So it was always walking for pleasure with us. But by accident, we adopted a good habit that exists to this day.

Simple truths

Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.

National Health Service UK

Honestly, it’s totally true. For many years I’ve had a terrible time with chronic knee pain which has affected my whole leg. This means that many exercises are just not possible for me and I have to undertake them very carefully. Walking had even become an issue for me whereby I had inadvertently adopted some bad habits to accommodate the pain. Under supervision from my physiotherapist, I had to relearn how to walk properly. Walking had not been a pleasure for a while. But now walking for pleasure is something I do every day, not only as a sustainable and enjoyable form of exercise but as a path to healing. I had to start small, and every two weeks I increase my distance by a few minutes. This keeps my pain under my control, has calmed my pain response, and decreased the threat of flair-ups.

Here are some other simple health truths about walking taken from the Better Health Channel website:

You carry your own body weight when you walk. This is known as weight-bearing exercise. Some of the benefits include:

  • increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
  • reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes
  • stronger bones and improved balance
  • increased muscle strength and endurance
  • reduced body fat.

Make walking a pleasure

Health benefits are important to know, but if we are to make a habit out of walking we need to make walking for pleasure our goal. We need to enjoy the activity if it is to be sustainable in our lives. This can be difficult if you live in an area where there isn’t anything particularly beautiful to look at. We often associate walking for pleasure with majestic landscapes. But this doesn’t have to be the case. We can still walk for pleasure without a beautiful setting. There are indeed many reasons to talk yourself out of doing something. But it’s all in how you approach the activity and your attitude.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Mix up your route or location to keep yourself visually motivated.
  • Walk with your dog or a friend’s dog for new company.
  • Walk with friends or family to give you conversation as you walk.
  • Join a walking club for added motivation regardless of location.
  • Change up the time of day you walk each day to alter your view.
  • Drive further afield to new locations when you have the time.
  • Be observant to the world around you and take notice of it all.
  • Listen to music, a podcast or mindfulness playlist to motivate or distract your thoughts.
  • Don’t push yourself beyond your ability. Gradually incorporate the habit for sustainability.

Feed the soul

Today, more than ever, we seem to be struggling collectively with our mental health. How often do we hear terrible stories of people who have succumbed and taken their own lives, or are addicted to various substances? Too often. Taking care of our mental health in today’s culture is more important than ever. Glued to screens as we are, living at a hundred miles per hour and sacrificing what is truly important is all taking its toll.

But we can do something about it. We are evolved creatures able to recognise when things are out of balance and realign our trajectory before disaster strikes. Aren’t we? I think we must be. Switching off that phone, coming home from work at a decent hour, prioritising our loved ones, eating in balance, making ‘me’ time, exercising regularly…we all know this stuff. So we need to be deliberate in our choices and live life well.

Beyond living well, however, there is a need to look after our soul or spirit. We are more than just flesh and bone, and as I said above, our mental health is a big part of that. If we are out of kilter in what we fill our days with – too much of one thing and not enough of another – then we start to see cracks. We can’t maintain imbalance.

This is where walking for pleasure comes in.

Getting out of the house and into the fresh air is food for the soul and mind. So many times I’ve felt lethargic and unmotivated, but once I step outside the cobwebs are blown away and I feel so much better. Giving ourselves headspace, clarity, time, even just for a little while, and on a regular basis, does wonders. Since incorporating walking for pleasure regularly into my life I have seen many improvements physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’m building strength in my leg, managing my pain response better, feeling more motivated and positive, and loving the routine of walking each day. I look forward to it. And we should all have something to look forward to, right?

I love walking because it clears your mind, enriches the soul, takes away stress, and opens up your eyes to a whole new world .

Claudette Dudley

One Comment

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Katie, I’m Elizabeth from Mexico City. At last I read a person that writes how I feel regarding excercise. Me too, never been good on that area on purpose. 3 years ago I took walking as a way to cope with a HUGE emotional shock. Since I couldn’t sleep, my sleeping patterns were altered and got out to walk as early as 6 or 6:30 am…for a sleepy like me it was something huge. After like 6 months the shock passed and I quit walking plus other events. Like 7 months later, I went to a gym only for ladies. I was able to do that 3 days a week for 1 year! My very first time ever! I improved in many ways…but then the health crisis hit the world and had to stop completely. But I was already a bit discouraged to continue doing so. It’s been a little over a year that I quit the gym. I bought some “equipment” to start with some excercise again … But I lack the desire to do so. I lack motivation…and I want to do it but even knowing good reasons to do so, I am stuck!
    Going back to walking sounds good, even though my surroundings are not pretty. But I don’t feel compelled like 3 years ago. Yes, I also remember feeding my soul, spirit and brain quite seriously …as I mentioned before, my emotional shock was huge! But it was amazingly good as well.

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