Walking with Vim and Vigour
It’s nearly 100 years since the founding father of the outdoor movement described walking as a cure for all his mind and body: ‘I have two doctors, my left leg and my right. When body and mind are out of gear (and those twin parts of me live at such close quarters that one always catches melancholy from the other) I know that I have only to call in my doctors and I shall be well again’ wrote G M Trevelyan in 1913.
His instincts were right for so many reasons that we now understand better. Walking as a form of exercise and mood enhancement has every advantage.
1. The great thing about walking is that it’s an outdoor activity which according to the latest research, doubles its goodness.
2. It’s much less stressful on the joints than many forms of exercise particularly if you learn how to do it well.
3. Because you are outdoors, you get to admire the countryside at the same time, which is a huge mood enhancer for us sensitive stone-age creatures.
4. You can do it with other people, it’s an ideal way to socialise without the temptations of food and alcohol!
5. It can involve a dog, which means you are doing the dog a favour. Giving other creatures pleasure is a pleasure in itself. And I can report that it’s just as good to borrow a neighbour’s dog if you haven’t got one.
To top it all, ordinary walking requires little planning, and no money. As soon as the mood grabs you, off you go, and it can even save you money if you walk to wherever it is you are going, instead of driving.
But many people still think that going to the Gym and punishing one’s body in a series of weight lifting exercises, done in front of complete strangers and a wide-screen TV, is the only way to build up those abs and increase upper body strength. Aha. Well for you we have a special treat which is still much cheaper than gym membership!
Enter Nordic Walking, a graceful form of walking with sticks. Not that cross country ski-type stuff where the sticks poke out in front like of you like telegraph poles on loan, no this is much more subtle. Have a look at this:
I have been learning Pilates with Martina for the past two years and I can confirm she is an expert, but unlike the Pilates lessons, which regularly reduce me to a moaning lump on the floor, Nordic walking did not feel difficult at all, in fact, it felt easier than normal walking. But the next day I could feel the good it had done my tummy muscles!
Not only that, it freed up all my shoulder muscles, so often cramped from sitting over a computer, and made everything feel loose and co-ordinated.
You can get in touch with Nordic Walking UK via their website, and see if they have a group in your area. Mostly, it involves one or two training sessions and then it’s out into the wilds to walk and natter with fellow enthusiasts.
Martina McKay is based in West Sussex.
Walking Quotes to Get you in The Mood!
‘Walking is man’s best medicine’ (Greek physician Hippocrates)
‘My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.’ (Aldous Huxley)
‘If medication existed which had a similar effect, it would be regarded as a ‘wonder drug’ or a ‘miracle cure’ (Liam Donaldson, former Government Chief Medical Officer)