Helen Chowaniec of 2 Spuds in a Pod tells us why getting outside is good for us, both mentally and physically!
I bet you have felt it, that feeling when you are tired, you don’t want to do anything and the last thing you want to do is get outside and actually go for a walk.
Then that feeling changes from one of dread to feeling amazing. You breathe in the fresh air and your lungs feel cleaner and full of life. The stress you have been carrying around for days or weeks quickly seems to disappear from your shoulders and your back. The question that you have had buzzing around your head for hours on end suddenly has an answer to it and not only that but it has a plan of action and it is a plan that is getting you a bit excited to get started on it.
That is the magic of great outdoors and going for a walk. A small yet mighty step between feeling dreadful to feeling awesome.
Now, you can see I haven’t even started to mention where to walk at this point and that is because in some ways it doesn’t matter. A walk is what you make it. It can be a walk around the block where your house is, it can be a walk up a vertical hill with a fantastic view at the top, it can be an old favourite in a forest or it can be a walk along the beach as the tide washes in and out over your toes. As I say, it can be anything you want it to be.
In terms of how long you want to stay outdoors and how much walking you want to do will probably be determined by the weather (I mean we do live in Scotland after all, the home of all four seasons in a day!!!). However, if you are a hardier walker then it doesn’t matter and you can disappear out into a forest or up a hill for a good few hours and then still have time for a cup of coffee at a conveniently placed coffee shop once you get back before the journey home.
Some of my best walks have been when I have arrived back at the car wet, covered in mud and exhausted. I started as a fairer weather walker but then shortly discovered that it was no fun to sit on the couch in the winter and wait for better days to come.
As I say we are looking to turn a frown upside down if you will and get that happy buzz we get when we get back from walking many a mile. I know it has done that to me many a time when I have had things to mull over in my mind, a big decision to be made or even if I need a quick step away from my desk during a work day.
There are of course some further benefits from walking and some of these are…
- Good for weight loss and weight management
- Improves fitness levels and can help strengthen the body
- Can help improve mood, memory and sleep patterns
- Helps the immune system which can help fight colds and flu symptoms
There is one massive element which I have briefly touched on at the start of this piece but as it is important I will bring it in again here. Stress! Stress is a massive thing in everybody’s lives, we can feel stressed about an upcoming exam, the fact we may be unhappy at work and don’t know how to change it, financial reasons or we are about to tell a friend of ours that we may be gay but we need some help with it. All of these are stressors we can have in our lives. Taking a walk (and even better if you can have a listening ear on the walk as well) is a great way to decompress what is happening, talking through some potential helpful tips and advice and to let the fizzy bottle of pop which is our minds create for us ease off a little.
I have found myself on many a walk where I have been a listening ear for someone and you know what I was more than happy to do that for the people involved. It helped them out and they got some much needed advice in the process. This was on top of the other benefits of what I have just said earlier.
There are some great benefits to walking in the great outdoors and for our wellbeing. All I can say is happy walking!