Mindful Walking: Walk Your Way to Mental and Physical Wellbeing

10/05/2016 14:30 | Updated 10 May 2016

People have been searching for new ways to find a sense of calm in their everyday lives for centuries and we've managed to come up with just about everything - apps, expensive gym classes, wellbeing centres... the list goes on.

But sometimes we forget that the simplest remedies are the best and - when it comes to stress reduction - walking is undoubtedly one of them.

Walking is as simple as it gets - it's free, it's easy and you don't need anything to get going. Whether it's a long stroll in the countryside or a twenty minute break at lunch, walking gives us space to breathe, relax and think more clearly.

And it seems like lots of us agree. When Living Streets asked 1000 adults about how walking makes them feel, one in four agreed that walking helps them to feel less tense at work.

Women in particular appear to reap the mental health rewards of a walk (or at least are more willing to talk about it) - nearly half said that a daily walk helps them to feel calmer and 42% said that a brisk stroll makes them feel happier.

And it's not just Living Streets research that's finding this to be the case. Mental health charity, Mind, published 'Ecotherapy: the green agenda for mental health', in which they revealed that 94% of people they surveyed said 'green exercise', like walking, improves their mental health with an incredible 71% of people experiencing a decrease in depression levels after going for a walk through nature and 45% reporting a depression decrease after an urban walk.

So this May, to mark National Walking Month, we're reminding people of the almost endless benefits that walking just short distances can bring. That's why, we want everyone to #Try20 - just fit 20 minutes of walking into your day.
You don't have to sign up for a trek or even commit yourself to walking to work every single day, just try to add more walking into your daily routine and see how it makes you feel.

Here's some tips to make the most of your walk and help you come back feeling calmer and happier:

• Switch off - if you find yourself constantly checking your e-mails and mentally going through your to do list on your lunch break, try and use this time to really switch off, even for a short space of time. We're constantly bombarded with information and demands throughout the day, leaving us feeling frazzled and burned out, so use your walk to give yourself some time away from technology.

• Make it mindful - mindfulness is the latest buzzword but it doesn't have to mean taking an hour out of your day to meditate, you can incorporate many of the principles into your daily activities, including walking. There are lots of ways to make your walk more mindful but this guide from is a great place to start.

• Make it different - take a new route, get off the bus at a different stop, or just simply take the time to be more aware of your surroundings. When we're stressed, it's especially easy to do things on autopilot and we can walk from A to B barely noticing how we got there. By mixing things up we become more aware and more present in the moment - it's amazing what a difference that can make to our mood and you might even just stumble across a café or shop you never even realised was there.

Sign up to #Try20 with Living Streets this May and see what a difference walking just twenty minutes a day can do for you.