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How an autumn walk is good for your body and mind

Walking became a daily pastime for many people during lockdown – an escape from the four walls of home; a way to get moving; a reason to see a friend. And, whilst we love a full-on HIIT workout here at KBPT, we also enjoy a simple walk along the Regent’s Canal, around Victoria Park or somewhere else. 

So, pull on your winter coat and boots (or your gym gear if you’re aiming for a brisk pace) as we find out how an autumn walk can help you to stay both physically and mentally healthy. We also offer a few KBPT tips to help you get the most out of it:

Get fitter

Walking regularly can improve your heart health, lower your blood pressure, help you to lose weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Whilst it’s a low intensity and low impact exercise, it uses lots of different muscles, including your hamstrings, calves and glutes. In fact, one leading physician has described walking as “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug”.

Boost your mood

Many studies have found positive links between being close to nature (e.g. on a walk) and good mental wellbeing. In a 2021 survey by the Mental Health Foundation, for example, 65% of adults in the UK said that the natural environment helps them to have positive emotions, such as calm, wonder and joy, and 44% said it makes them less anxious.

Improve your sleep

Like other forms of exercise, walking can increase melatonin (a natural sleep hormone) and help you to get a better night’s sleep. If you decide to walk first thing in the morning and get exposure to natural light, this also helps to set your circadian rhythm. 

 

KBPT’s walking tips

  1. Start with a brisk 10-minute daily walk (around three miles per hour) and gradually build up to walking 30 minutes per day six days a week.
  2. Warm up before you set off and cool down when you get home.
  3. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes or trainers and take a waterproof jacket in case it rains.
  4. Focus on using good form in order to avoid injury – yes, walking is an intuitive movement that you do every day, but don’t forget to keep your head up, relax your shoulders and swing your arms.
  5. Incorporate walking into your daily routine (could you walk to work or take the kids to school on foot?) and try to switch up the route you take to keep it interesting.
  6. Invite a friend to join you or see if there’s a walking group in your local area. Turning a walk into a social activity is a great way to stay motivated.
  7. Pay attention to your surroundings as you walk – listen to the birds, notice the colours of the autumn leaves and breathe in the fresh air.
  8. Download an app like Active 10, Go Jauntly or Strava to discover new walking routes and track how far you go.
  9. Listen to your favourite music or podcast – or, if you subscribe to Apple Watch for Fitness+, why not tune in to an episode of Time to Walk? 
  10. If you’re ready to take your walking up a gear, incorporate some intervals (e.g. short periods of faster walking) or use some wrist weights to challenge your muscles.
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