Is there any greater physical activity than the humble walk? From uphill hikes and marathon power walks, to weekend strolls and ambles on the beach, it has to be one of the most versatile, useful and joyful means of moving your body – not to mention the fact it can save you money, improve your physical and mental health, and enable you to explore and feel better connected with your surroundings.
And following AXA PPP healthcare’s finding that almost two-thirds of Brits want to be more resilient (defined as the ability to bounce back from setbacks and to keep going in the face of tough demands and difficult circumstances), Julia Bradbury shares her simple but effective top tip to help make this desire a reality – go for a walk. Julia has teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare and its director of psychological services, Dr Mark Winwood, to encourage the nation to get more physical and to talk about how taking steps to build her own resilience has helped her through tough times.
Julia has found herself drawing on her resilience when overcoming both personal and professional challenges. She comments: “I feel incredibly resilient but it’s been a learning process and some of it is the result of having to survive unexpected difficulties – as we all do. I was diagnosed with life-threatening pre-eclampsia which threatened the lives of me and my unborn children. I’ve been through multiple rounds of IVF and both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer within a year of each other.
"My career has seen me in situations that have tested my physical abilities and my mental strength, requiring me to call upon skills I didn’t know I had, to tell myself to keep going. At times like these walking is my go-to therapy – a time to process my thoughts and gain perspective on problems.”
Here are seven simple ways to encourage yourself to walk the walk:
Work it into your day
One of the simplest ways to walk more is to make it part of your everyday routine, whether that’s doing the school-run or commuting on foot. If you live far away from your place of work, why not get off the bus or train a few stops early?
Make it social
Next time you’re planning a catch-up with a friend, or chatting through your day or week with your partner/spouse/boy or girlfriend, why not do it on foot? Conversation, exercise and fresh air…
Use money-saving as a motivator
If you find getting moving a struggle, it really helps to use positive motivation tactics. This means focusing on the positive outcomes, rather than bullying yourself into it for negative reasons, such as, ‘I must exercise because I’m so fat and unhealthy!’ Instead, think, ‘If I exercise, I’ll gain X, Y, Z’ – and saving money is one of the big rewards of walking more, rather than always jumping in the car or on the bus.
Take work breaks on foot
Whether it’s a 15-minute tea or lunch break, make the most of it by going for a brisk or gentle stroll. Even short bursts of physical activity, when done regularly, can make a difference to your health, so it’s always worth it, and it’ll help manage stress levels too.
Family time on foot
We’re often told that quality family time is, generally, on the decline. Factoring in a weekend family walk can be a great way to bond, communicate and have fun together. It might be easier to chat during a walk, as it’s less intense than being sat round a table – plus it’ll create wonderful memories, and there’s no chance of anyone being distracted by the TV!
Stroll with a soundtrack
Is there a radio programme you particularly enjoy, or a podcast series you love – or maybe you just don’t get much time to listen to your favourite music any more? Download it onto your phone, pop in some headphones, and head out for some ‘me time’ on foot. That way you’re being active and making time to listen to all those things you love.
Count it as part of your weekly exercise
Keeping fit doesn’t have to mean going to the gym or sticking to a rigid exercise class; incidental everyday activity can count towards those health-preserving fitness goals – and don’t underestimate the physical benefits of walking. If you’re struggling to find time to exercise, making it your mission to just walk more, every day, means your fitness doesn’t have to suffer.
Do you love a good walk? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.