We are built to walk
Why walk? For mental clarity? Physical fitness? To complete challenges? The reasons for walking and its benefits are unlimited.
For many of us, sitting for hours on end is part of daily life. When we sit, most of our weight is concentrated on our lower back – especially our coccyx, where many muscles and tendons extend to our spine, legs, glues and thighs. This could be the reason behind many back problems. Our blood pressure and even our metabolic rate, changes from sitting for long periods of time. But when we stand up and start to move about, our brain activity changes. Walking can even help repair organs, slows the aging of our brains, helps the gut by assisting food passing through the intestines, improve creativity, improve mood and can even produce new cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that supports memory and learning.
Just being able to put one foot in front of the other and meander through different landscapes is such a blessing. One that I never cease to be grateful for. There is something quite magical about walking in nature. The colours, sounds and smells all seem to be heightened slightly.
10k steps seem to be the common target these days. I for one can immediately feel the impact of not walking a few miles each day. Having a dog helps to ensure I get those steps in each day. I used to be quite obsessive about step counting. Funnily enough, I don’t really measure this much nowadays and rather go off how I feel in myself. Some days calls for a brief brisk walk and other days I can be out for 4 hours at a time, either hastily stomping out my thoughts and anxieties, or just sitting on a dry stone wall soaking up the beauty of nature.
We are built with the ability to walk substantial distances in relatively short periods of time by making steady, reliable daily progress. Studies have proven that even in late middle age, daily walking can protect the heart by making it fitter and reducing factors in the blood stream that can cause heart disease. Extended periods of daily endurance walking helps the body adapt dramatically to improve so many issues.
The vast majority of us will not climb Mount Everest or row across the Atlantic. Beyond our reach physically and financially (not to mention the risks and time off work). But hiking a long distance trail in this beautiful country that we are privileged to call home, is a very attainable challenge for many. Done in one go or split up into sections, there is tremendous pride in the knowledge that you have experienced that wonderful part of the world by foot alone. Seeing and feeling everything along the way from being hungry, cold/ hot, sweaty, thirsty and more than likely, tired. Amazing things happen outside your comfort zone.
Do you love the outdoors, yearn for challenge and adventure yet crave a more simplified existence and escape from the chaos of modern life? Then long distance hiking may just be the thing for you.
Having nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other, make sure you keep yourself fed, hydrated and have somewhere to rest at night is so liberating. It feels like meditation. Troubles and problems that may have been plaguing you for a while somehow seem to solve themselves in your mind. The stress and anxiety slip away as you focus on getting to that next view point. Having the space and time to watch the sun set without having to jump up to continue the To Do List of never ending chores. There is so much bliss and pleasure to be had in the simplicity of long distance walking.
Have you walked any of Britain’s Long Distance Trails? I would love to hear your adventures and maybe we can share your story with the outdoor community? If we feature your adventures we will also provide you with a meal for your next hike!
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Thank you for reading and enjoy your week!