National Walking Month: Top tips to unleash the joy of walking...


May is dedicated to National Walking Month. As it gets a little warmer and the days are longer, it can make going for a walk much more appealing.

Walking is full of health benefits, but often it can be difficult to get motivated or excited to take a walk.

Here’s some of our top tips for some walking motivation and enjoyment...

Top tips for enjoying walks

Find a good route

Walking can be much more enjoyable when you’ve got a good route to follow; think scenery and nature.

Some great places to walk include: near lakes, by the beach or local forests and natural green spaces, which have great benefits, such as promoting mental well-being and reducing stress. Choosing a route that’s enjoyable to walk, can make it much more motivating to take a walk. 

If you’re lucky enough to live near the coast, walking on the beach can be beneficial for you. Sea air is reported to keep your lung function healthy, as it thins any mucus by breaking it down. This is all thanks to the salt air’s natural antibacterial properties – Women’s Fitness.


Dog walking

If you are a dog owner, dog walks are a great way to get more steps in. If you want to increase the number of steps or amount of cardiovascular exercise you're doing, taking longer routes or increasing the number of walks a day can be a great option. 

 The great thing about dog walking is no matter the weather or how you feel, you need to give your pet some exercise! And even if you don’t fancy it, you’ll definitely come back feeling better after fresh air and getting moving. Fear not if you don’t have a dog, why not join a friend or family member on their dog walk?


Friends and family 

Walking alone might seem dull or boring. If that is the case, arranging walks with friends or family can be a good option. Chatting the time away will make walking more enjoyable and maybe not even feel like exercise. Another benefit of a walking buddy is a structured walking routine, meaning you may be more motivated and less likely to skip your walk.


Walking groups

Walking groups can be a great motivation to get walking. You can meet new people and even learn new routes to walk. Being part of a walking group can be something to look forward to and definitely make walking more fun.

The British Heart Foundation can help find details of walking groups near you here.


Environmental Benefits

Another key factor to motivate walking is how it can benefit the environment. Switching the wheels for your feet where you can, can have massive benefits on the environment. Walking to work a few days a week, or during weekend activities, is a great contribution. Not to mention, walking is free, with no transport costs and it contributes to quiet environments, reducing noise pollution.


Getting the gear

Nothing gives you motivation or gets you in the mood like being comfortable on a walk. Investing in the right shoes will also be comfortable and not cause blisters. They will also prevent potential injury.

Some of the recommended key things to look for and consider when finding a good walking shoe includes:

  • Cushioning - A soft inner sole relives pressure
  • Space - Give the toes plenty of room
  • Length - At least half an inch is suggested beyond your longest toe
  • Stability - A sturdy area around your heel to keep your foot secure

Find the perfect playlist

If you do opt for walking on your own, one thing that can definitely help to keep you going is a good playlist. Get together some upbeat and motivating songs or just some of your favourites, pop your headphones in and get walking. You’ll be surprised how the time passes as you enjoy some music! It will help to get you into the rhythm of the walk. Studies have shown that music whilst walking, increases motivation, distracts from feelings of fatigue and improves efficiency of walks.

Tracking App

If you’re struggling to stay motivated, apps can be handy for tracking your walk. You can see your walking progress, estimate calories burned and miles walked. This can be great for keeping you motivated and also tracking progress. App such as Strava, MapMyWalk and FitBit have all been recommended as good tools for walking motivation.

You can access amazing Fitbit and apple watch offers through UK leading insurers we are partnered with. Bupa offer 20% off Fitbit products and Vitality offers an Apple Watch offer through qualifying health insurance plans with a points system where the more you move, the less you will pay.



Physical health benefits of walking

Walking has some fantastic benefits for our health, which include:

Improved cardiovascular fitness

Walking is good for your cardiovascular health. As cardio involves heart and blood vessels, a good cardio workout gets your heart pumping faster.

Some of the benefits of good cardiovascular fitness include:

  • Lowering your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes
  • Improved blood flow
  • Management of high blood pressure 
  • Control blood sugar levels

Although walking can be a good contributor, to really improve your cardiovascular fitness a faster pace or uphill walk that challenges can help.

Strengthened bones and muscles

Walking is a weight bearing exercise that builds and maintains strong bones. Bone strength starts to decline at a rate of 1% per year after the age of 40. Therefore, walking can be an important contributor to helping to slow down bone loss.

Of course, higher impact activities will have stronger benefits on bones and it's important to remember walking only benefits bones in your lower body, but it's definitely a good motivation to get walking more.


Mental health benefits of walking

Walking can contribute to improved mood and can improve sleep patterns, which can contribute to your mental health overall. A good sleep cycle has been known to benefit and have positive effects on improving mental health.

Mood: Walking releases endorphins, which increase feelings of well-being. The more you walk, the more endorphins you produce. Walking will also increase your heart rate and in doing so improve blood flow and speed up oxygen delivery throughout the body. All of which helps to reduce stress levels, think more clearly and feel more energised.

Improved Sleep: In a National Library of Medicine study on sleep health it was reported that participants who were more active, and took more steps, reported sleeping better than those who were less active. Better sleep being defined as achieving deeper, better quality sleep leading to feeling more rested. In turn, this can mean being able to think more clearly, reduce feelings of stress, and improve concentration levels.

More Energy: Walking improves blood flow to the brain which means you are left feeling more energised. Feeling more energised means you are able to engage with your daily activities better and more energy is an instant mood booster, especially combined with the increase of endorphins too. More energy can mean being more productive and achieving more, leading to feelings of statisfaction and relief.

Learn more in our blog walking for mental health.

 Although walking can seem like a simple exercise to get involved in, it can have massive benefits on our health. Finding new ways to walk can be a great way to make walking less dull and more of a fun hobby or exercise regime.

You can learn more about National Walking Month here.



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