THE BLOG

Feeling Unhappy? Get Walking!

09/04/2015 10:08 BST | Updated 08/06/2015 10:59 BST

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Your body was designed to walk. And not just from the pavement to the car or the restaurant to the black cab. In fact, your body was designed to walk, and walk and walk and when you make time in your daily life to embrace the idea of walking as a powerful tool for boosting and maintaining high levels of wellbeing, your body - and also your mind - will truly thank you.

Study after scientific study has been shouting the benefits of walking for decades now yet walking remains the much neglected wallflower relative to running. This seems absurd because of all the activities you can build into your day to get a range of health benefits walking is the one that costs nothing but time and your commitment.

Walking - even just 20 minutes a day - has been shown to reduce the risk of even serious health risks including stroke, obesity, dementia and heart disease. The benefits of walking on the mind, memory and planning have also been proven - just 40 minutes, three times a week, and then consider the impact of this benefit in light of the rise of dementia both in the UK and overseas. According to Dementia UK: Second Edition, a report published at the end of last year, rates of dementia are steadily increasing and if they continue at the same rate, we will see a projected and alarming rise of 40 percent over the next 12 years. More reasons to get walking!

What price sanity? A good pair of walking boots

Walking also has some very beneficial impacts on mood - just 30 minutes a day for a 326 per cent decrease in the risk of depression - which makes total sense when you have experienced for yourself that a long walk can work as an antidote to stress, low mood, feeling miserable or overwhelmed or just lacking in energy. Stick your walking shoes on and you will always come home in a different state to the one you set out in - and always different in a good way.

In fact the psychological benefits of walking are now so well documented many of London's top psychotherapists and coaches are incorporating walking into their sessions. One such leading coach is Kelly Hearn of W11 Coaching where her much sought after 'Sanity Walks' have been gaining popularity and get booked up weeks in advance.

"I walk a lot, always have" says Kelly. "I walk especially when life seems upside down; when I am stuck; when I am not sure where, or how, to move forward. I walk until things get better or become clearer. I call these outings my Sanity Walks."

Walking is a great metaphor for getting unstuck and moving forward - you can only walk when you put one foot in front of the other. You don't worry you cannot cover the distance because you learn that's all you have to do, keep putting that foot forward.

That, in large part, is the main reason walking is at the heart of my Yeotown Lifestyle Retreat and each day starts with a three hour hike- rain or shine - across the gorgeous, wild Atlantic North Devon coast. And we're not alone in recognising the powerful mind + body benefits of something as simple and natural as a good walk outdoors. One of the best known quotes about walking can be attributed to the famed German philosopher and profound thinker Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche who said, "All great thoughts are conceived by walking."

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