Why I walk - and you should too!
Our trial walker for the 8km route and guest blogger Victoria Phillips-Kennedy - also found @inladyvsshoes on Instagram - sums up beautifully why walking is a fantastic boost for your physical and mental health.
Why do I walk? And why you should too!
So, a little bit about me. I am a fairly average 30 year old. Average height, average shoe size and – while I am certainly not at risk of being blown away to Oz on a windy day – I am a fairly average weight too. I enjoy exercising, but am by no means an athlete (in my family you would look to my brother to fit that criterion). If you were to ask me how I rate my IQ I would again answer with "it's average".
And all this suits me and I am very happy being me. I do not envision myself rising up to an Olympian or an 'Einstein-esk' status. I do, however, (regardless of natural talent or ability) love, love, love trying new things. Be it physical, mental or spiritual – as long as it is legal, I will give it a bash!
Last year, I tackled the Illuminator night trail race for the first time and, while the event itself was a really great experience, one of the biggest joys of the whole thing was the training in anticipation of the challenge.
I think a lot of people underestimate the power of walking. Compared to running, it doesn't get your heart rate going as high, you don't sweat as much and (something that I personally love about it) almost anybody can do it. It isn't always going to give you the 'wow!' factor and adrenaline surge that many crave today. This doesn't mean, however, that it isn't a highly effective way to stay fit and healthy. For many, running and other high-impact exercises can be dangerous, be it due to age, size or existing health conditions. Walking for a lot of people really is the best option for exercise.
The main draw of walking for me though is not the physical benefits: it goes far beyond that. I have never hidden the fact that I struggle with anxiety and depression. I take medication for this, which works wonders for me, but one of my greatest forms of self-care is walking. Good old-fashioned walking – as straight forward as that. I love getting back to nature, leaving the paperwork, cleaning and, dare I say it, the social media at home. It is a gloriously simple act that has countless benefits. As little as 5 minutes of walking has been proven to improve your mood, and after 90 minutes outside the number of depressive thoughts can be vastly reduced.
And then there is where walking can take you: being out on a walk can take you from being Mind Full to Mindful. As Queen Elsa from Disney's “Frozen” famously sings (apologies to all parents of small children out there who will inevitably now be getting this song stuck in their heads) "... it's funny how some distance makes everything seem small" … sometimes you just need a break in a beautiful place to make you realise how tiny you are.
Not in an insignificant way, but in a calming and reassuring way. In a way that means you can figure everything out in manageable chunks. On walks I have played out difficult conversations in my head (only occasionally verbalising bits to my unsuspecting dog), planned my meals for the week, rationalised my emotions and taken many a deep sigh of release. (I have also let out many yells of release if I am honest. There is something very cathartic about it and I fully recommend trying it yourself, just maybe check that you are alone first).
As my feet stomp along (a ballet dancer I am not) I feel the many open browser windows in my mind being filed and sorted. For me, it has become an almost meditative practice. I call no one, I write down nothing, I allow my thoughts to come and go. It's amazing what I see, what I notice and what I feel when I slow down and take a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Be it in nature (my sanctuary), the village or even in cities – an hour or so totally unplugged, much like a hot cup of Twining's tea (I'm about to pinch one of their marketing campaigns), helps bring 'me' back to me.
If all of this wasn't a good enough reason to walk, and I totally think that it is, have I mentioned that it's free?! Now if that doesn't inspire you to get walking then I don't know what will!
So, I will close here for now. With Elsa as my internal soundtrack, I am off for a screen free break and a leg stretch with my ever-patient dog. See you out there on the trails, happy walking all, Victoria xxx