Walking every day is getting me through lockdown 3.0. Walking every day is revolutionising my wellbeing. Walking every day brings me so much joy! In January I walked over 100 miles!
It seems like such a simple and obvious thing to do, walking every day. Something millions of people have been doing every day for millennia. For fun, for work, to get from A to B.
And don’t get me wrong, I have always loved walking. I’ve been on holidays that involved lots of hiking, I’ve trekked to Everest Base Camp and Olly and I regularly walk the dog around the Peak District (when allowed!). I haven’t just discovered walking, but I’ve discovered the importance and benefits of walking every day.
In lockdown 1 and 2 I was getting out for walks relatively frequently. Having Cookie, our rescue dog, since June, means we have definitely been walking more regularly than before. However, Cookie loves a lie in and isn’t quite the reason to get up early and out the house as I thought she might be!
As I’ve mentioned in previous recent posts, like this one about The Midnight Library, last year was a struggle and there were definitely days when I didn’t leave the house. Opening the door to let Cookie out for a run in the garden or sending Olly out for a quick walk around the block with her.
However over Christmas I decided to make a change. I know how much benefit I get from being outside. Nature’s Health Service, free for all and always there, whatever the weather!
Though I haven’t made any specific goals this year, instead opting to ‘just do a little bit‘ I have some daily practices I am working towards, but also not getting mad at myself if I don’t hit them. One of those is walking.
I want to ensure I get out the house and walk every day. It could be less than a mile to the shops and back, or it could be a full on trek lasting most of the day.
And so far this year, for January, I have done it.
I have walked over 100 miles, I have got out of the house every single day and WOA, boy do I feel better for it!
How I walked over 100 miles in January
A 100 miles might seem tiny to some, but huge to others. Really it’s not about the numbers, but at the same time I feel proud of having reached this milestone of walking over 100 miles in one month.
It works out as just over 5km (3.2miles) a day, but in fact there were a few days I walked less than this. I made up the numbers by walking much further at the weekend, including a couple of 12 mile days, doing big loops from home into the Peak District and back.
I measured my walks through the Strava app so this is just the actual walks I’ve done. I don’t have a smart watch so it’s not adding up my steps around the house, the times I nipped to the shops or a couple of walks at night when my phone battery had died.
Here are a few of my tips for how I walked over 100 miles in January…
Just put your shoes on and get outside
Kind of obvious, but it’s become second nature to me now. If I haven’t been out in the morning I start to crave my outside time. Even when I am tired I just lace up my boots, put my coat on and start walking. Often the times I can’t be bothered end up being my longest and most enjoyable walks.
When you don’t want to, it probably means you need to. Just put your boots on and get outside!
Don’t make a plan
I have a few set walks I do now, I know the 2 mile loop, the 3 mile loop, the 5 mile loop etc. It’s hard not to walk the same paths when all walks have to be from my front door, but I am still discovering new places.
Try turning left instead of right, following the path a bit further than usual or walk your usual walk back to front. I’ve done this a couple of times and it really does make it feel like a totally different walk.
Download a podcast or phone a friend
My favourite thing to do on my walks is voice-note my friends (or listen to voice-notes from them), it’s a great way to catch up with people at a time that works for you.
My friend Kirsty from What Kirsty Did Next and I leave each other voice-notes almost daily, updating each other on work, life and everything in between. We do similar work, both working in charity digital and having a travel blog so there’s always plenty to share.
If I don’t feel like talking I listen to a podcast. Sometimes I do neither and just listen to the sound of the birds, church bells and Cookie chasing after squirrels.
Don’t always go alone
I am never alone on my walks as I always have Cookie with me, but sometimes it’s nice to have a real life human to talk to too. We’re still allowed to meet up with one other person for a walk outside, so if you can and feel comfortable, I recommend doing it.
Whether you live alone or with a house full of children, I think we are all craving communication with people outside of our household. Zoom calls just don’t cut it.
How Walking Every Day Improved My Wellbeing
Walking 100 miles is great, but the real benefit has been to my wellbeing. I would say on the whole I have felt a lot better than September, October, November and December… and I think it has a lot to do with getting outside.
Like with everything, it is never just one thing, but I think walking is what has made one of the biggest, if not the biggest impact to my mental health.
Getting Close to Nature’s Health Service
Last year I did a talk about what we can learn from Nature and the benefits of Nature’s Health Service. Listening to the sound of nature, breathing in fresh air, stomping through muddy fields, watching the river gushing by and feeling snow fall on your face.
Nature is incredible, I’m a big fan! There is loads of research around the healing power of nature and the closer I get to it the more I realise its magic!
Moving my Body
I didn’t set any big fitness or weight loss goals this year. I just promised myself I would move more.
We live in a valley so pretty much whichever way I walk there is going to be a hill involved, so even a short walk feels like a little mini workout. When we’re stuck inside more than ever before, getting out and moving is so so important!
Seeing People in Real Life
I haven’t been on walks with anyone but Olly since the first couple of days of January, when I walked with my sisters before they returned to uni.
However, I see people on my walks. Sometimes people I know from my town, sometimes strangers to smile at, say hello to, or have a little conversation with about Cookie, the weather or the weird time we’re living in.
Just smiling at someone and having them smile back can really perk up my day. We’re in this together and a small smile and a little kindness goes a really long way. Now and always.
Stomping it Out!
When I’m having a bad day… I still have those despite feeling generally happier right now…. A walk never fails to help. My friend Lucie and I call it time to ‘stomp it out’!
When I’m stressed, sad, angry or just feeling irritated or annoyed at the world. I find going for a big stomp in the fields really helps. Try it!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Tell me, have you been walking every day in lockdown? Do you find it helps you make it through? Maybe you’ve walked over 100 miles this month or you’re proud of walking 10. I’d love to hear how walking has helped you.