Did you know that May is National Walking Month?
How often do you go out for a walk? I have friends who think nothing of a 9 mile hike on a Saturday afternoon. Others who find it difficult to get outside at all.
I like to think of myself as a walker. I’ve got a dog – Kinder the chocolate Labrador – and she needs walking a couple of times a day. She’s getting a bit old now so we don’t go out for long walks very often, but she enjoys a 30 minute tramp around the streets, with a quick visit in to our local park a few times a day.
Sometimes I find it really difficult to take her out.
Particularly first thing in the morning if I haven’t actually got much to do that day – it’s easier if I know I need to start work at 9am. And if I’m feeling a bit low, worrying about something or someone or if I’m stressed about work – I don’t want to go out.
But without fail, I feel better for a walk. It might only be 20 minutes and it might be pouring with rain, but it gets me energised and puts me in a more positive frame of mind.
Science tells us why: exercise releases endorphins which increase our sense of wellbeing. And being outside – especially if it’s sunny – releases serotonin which is a natural mood stabiliser.
But I’m not thinking about the science when I’m walking. In the last few weeks we’ve had lovely Spring weather and I’ve notice the blossom on the trees, the daffodils and bluebells, and the vibrant green of the trees.
And I’ve noticed something interesting during lockdown. There are more people out walking – taking advantage of the daily exercise. While that might mean having to do the “social distancing dance” – to avoid getting within 2 metres of each other – it has also meant that I’ve actually had more social interaction on my walk. It might just be a “thank you” – acknowledging when you’ve moved over – or sometimes a longer chat about the weather, the dog or how strange everything is at the moment.
So while at the moment I might not be able to meet up with friends and do a long walk ending up the pub (my favourite kind of walk), I’m still getting out because I know I’ll feel better for it.
Although as I write this it’s pouring with rain, so Kinder will have to wait a little while ….
Photo: my own
1 May 2020