May is National Walking Month – a month dedicated to taking part in various activities and challenges to inspire people to walk more. Whether it’s for commuting, leisure, or health, walking is a low-impact exercise that can easily increase your activity level and improve your mental and physical health.

This blog aims to reveal some of the physical and mental benefits of walking and give you some top tips on how to easily incorporate walking into your daily routine.

Physical benefits

Although walking is a low-impact exercise, it remains an effective way to enhance your overall fitness. It engages the cardiovascular system, strengthens muscles, aids in weight management, and boosts endurance.

Engaging in just 10 minutes of walking a day can reduce your risk of developing certain health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers such as bladder and breast cancer.

Mental benefits

Walking is an effective and accessible way to enhance your mental well-being. Exercises like walking help your body release feel-good hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Studies have shown that it can improve your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve memory.

Spending time outdoors has been acknowledged as a way to manage mental health symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. In particular, ecotherapy has become increasingly popular as a treatment for improving mental health.

Walking made simple

The recommended number of steps is at least 10,000 steps a day. However, according to the NHS, many of us do not achieve this goal.

Reaching the goal of 10,000 steps a day can be made simple and enjoyable. Here are some effective strategies to increase your daily steps and make a habit.

Choosing walking over driving

If you’re commuting, try parking your car further from your destination or getting off the bus one stop early to walk the rest of the way. Additionally, taking a 15–20-minute stroll during your lunch break can make a big difference. These small changes may seem subtle, but they will significantly increase your average daily step count over time.

Take the stairs

Opting for the stairs instead of the lift or escalator is a low-impact exercise that can boost your step count and enhance your overall cardiovascular fitness. Climbing stairs engages your leg muscles to drive yourself upward, toning and strengthening your legs and glutes in the process. This simple change not only improves overall fitness but also builds power in your lower body muscles.

Mix it up

You can spice up your walking routine by exploring new locations and walking trails. Adding variety to your walks will make them more fulfilling and interesting, and keep you motivated to increase your daily steps.

You don’t have to live by the countryside to have access to good walking routes, urban areas can have just as fascinating routes available. Places such as parks, heritage, trails, canal paths, and riversides. As you venture through different areas, you might even discover cafes and restaurants you hadn’t noticed before!

Walk with friends or join a community group

Walking with friends or as a group is a great way to start walking. It not only helps keep you motivated, but it is a great way to socialise which will significantly improve your mental health.

There are many community walking groups you can join, allowing you to open up to different types of walks, meet new people, and socialise with like-minded individuals. 

Listen to music

If you find it challenging to stay motivated whilst walking, you can try listening to your favourite podcast or music. This can make the activity more enjoyable and help pass the time quickly.

National Walking Month

Incorporating walking into your daily routine is a simple yet effective way to improve both your physical and mental health. By making small, everyday changes like walking part of your commute, choosing the stairs, or joining a community walking group, you can easily increase your activity levels.

As you embrace these habits, you will enjoy the numerous benefits that walking brings, from enhanced fitness and reduced disease risk to improved mood and stress relief. This National Walking Month, take the first step on your path to wellness and discover the transformative power of walking.