Walking in Lockdown – A Covid Safe Activity
Lockdown has forced many people into becoming far less active this year. Normal daily routines and activity patterns have all gone out the window, simple things like just popping to the shop or even taking the children to and from school have just not been happening. By removing these types of small daily activities, even over a few months, it has meant that activity levels across most demographics will have dropped considerably.
Being aware of increasingly sedentary habits is the first step to purposefully getting up and moving more.
For the elderly, shielding will have resulted in less opportunities and reasons to move from their armchairs. The term” use it or lose it” is particularly relevant : as by not staying active, all the things that were once enjoyed and taken for granted will start to become that little bit harder. Aches and pains will increase, energy levels will decrease and it will become harder for them to maintain independence.
If you want to stay pain-free, reduce your risk of mental illness, and be able to go out and stay independent well into old age, you’re advised to keep moving.
A year ago, when the pandemic first hit, going out for an hour’s exercise a day was a novelty, a luxury almost. Now a year on and getting out for a daily walk is much more of a necessity and should be part of your daily routine. In this article we will look at different ways and reasons to start walking and explain the health benefits of doing so.
Walking for physical health
Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. It is a gentle form of exercise that can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier.
Even a brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and will count towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.
The physical benefits of regularly walking can:
- maintain a healthy weight
- keep your muscles and bones healthy
- increase your cardiovascular fitness
Walking can also reduce your risk of developing certain health conditions, including:
In addition Age Uk say
Being physically active and leading a healthy lifestyle could reduce your risk of developing dementia.
For people with dementia, regular activity can improve their strength and flexibility, ensure better sleep, and some studies suggest it may improve memory and slow the progression of the condition.
Walking for mental health
As well as physical health, walking is also good for our mental health. The exercise involved in walking helps release feel-good hormones that improve our self esteem. Because our self esteem is how we see and feel about ourselves it is a key indicator to our mental wellbeing. Studies have also shown that walking can:
- improve your mood
- reduce stress
- manage anxiety
- help you sleep better
- increase your energy
- help you to cope with difficult times
- improve your confidence
- reduce the risk of depression
Walk & Talk or Walk and Listen
If just walking on your own feels a bit odd or makes you feel insecure then you may find it both therapeutic and comforting to listen to music as you walk – Teenagers have naturally done this for years, with their headphones on they send out a clear message that they do not want to be disturbed and listening to music can cover up and hide their insecurities and anxieties.
You could also use the time to listen to a podcast or even to learn a new language; both of which will take your mind off the effort involved in walking.
The best therapy though is walking and talking with a friend. Many people find they can walk for ages while catching up with a friend.
If lockdown restrictions have taught us anything it is how beneficial a walk is when it has allowed us to see a friend in person under the pretence of exercise. The exercise has happened as the consequence of needing to re-connect with our loved ones. The conversations had whilst walking during lockdown have easily become more deep and meaningful as a result of not having been anywhere or done anything worth mentioning
This is the winter of frank conversations about the true state of marriages, children, careers; about how to fill the gap when the kids grow up and move away; about unresolved anger and anxiety and grief; about coping or not coping with old emotions dredged nearer the surface by the experiences of a fraught year
Schedule in lots of walks with friends to quickly and easily increase your walking activity through the week and safely increase your social interactions.
Walking in Bridgend
Walking doesn’t just have to be confined to a walk through town. Walking is a great way to explore the local countryside and find new places on your doorstep. Why not take a walk along the beach for a truly envigorating experience?
Here are some links to find local walks around Bridgend:
- A new local walk to enjoy
- Bridgend Ramblers
- Recreational paths in Bridgend County Borough
- Regular led walks
- Ramblers – CoyChurch Lower
If you need a bit of extra motivation or encouragement to get walking there are lots of walking challlenges that you can get involved with. Many challenges are designed to both raise awareness and raise funds for local and national charities.
Here are a few examples:
- Trek for Mind
- Walks and Treks for the British Heart Foundation
- Charity Walks for Cancer Research UK
- Hiking for Marie Curie
- Charity challenges for the NSPCC