National Walking Month – Just 20 Minutes of Walking a Day Can Improve Your Mental Health!
By JustBe Croydon
May is National Walking Month - four weeks dedicated to getting out and about. From lowering your blood pressure to keeping your weight in check, you probably know that walking is great for your physical health. However, a daily stroll can also do wonders for your mental wellbeing. As well as an excellent way to destress, walking has plenty of other benefits when it comes to mental health – check out a few of our favourites below.
Walking Can Help You to Embrace the Moment
Does it ever feel as though life is passing you by? Well, let us introduce you to “mindful walking.” Mindfulness improves your mental wellbeing by encouraging you to pay closer attention to the world around you. From the sounds of the birds in the trees, to your own thoughts and feelings, mindful walking means embracing what is going on both inside and outside of our brains, step by step.
Mindful walking is also easy to fit into your daily routine, whether it’s walking to the local shop or taking a different route home at the end of the day. So, next time you’re out and about, turn off autopilot mode and take a look around, you might start to see things a little differently.
Identify What’s Really Bringing You Down
Spend too much time inside your own head? Professor Mark Williams, former director of Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindful walking can make us more aware of our thoughts in real-time and stop us from losing touch with who we are. It can also help us to pinpoint negative emotions that are influencing our behaviour, such as stress or anxiety.
"Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment. It's about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives."
As walking can improve your mood, it’s also a great aid for those suffering with depression and other mental health problems. Not to mention, being active helps you to sleep better at night, and we’re all a bit more cheerful after a good night’s sleep!
Make New Friends
Although there is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying some quality time for yourself, walking doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Invite a friend or family member along with you or drop in on that elderly neighbour who could use some company. Who knows, it could make their day!
Croydon’s Walking for Health Scheme runs a free programme of weekly group walks. They have planned routes suitable for all levels of ability and fitness, and you’ll have the opportunity to make new friends in the process. It goes without saying that connecting with others is good for our wellbeing, so combine that with walking and get double the points!
For more tips on how walking can improve your health, check out Living Street’s #Try20 tips for National Walking Month.