May is National Walking Month and there are lots of organisations encouraging you to get on your feet, get closer to those 10,000 steps.
Walking is the easiest fitness routine anyone can take up. Simply being active helps reduce your risk of developing a heart or circulatory condition, having a stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, among others. It is also an easy way to change your atmosphere, destress and relax.
Most of us already walk three to four thousand steps. Pottering around in the morning, having to pop back because you forgot your wallet, walking from the train platform to work - it all adds up. Here are a few ways to add a few more thousand.
Sound easy? Grab a friend too and explore your town. Over the weekend of 20-21 May, Walk London have organised free guided walks all across London. Whether you’d like to learn a bit of history or explore a picturesque canal, there’s a walk for everyone. Pop over to the website to book your place.
Across England and Wales there are 2000 miles of canals, linking towns and cities, and a great way to spot some wildlife. There are plenty of adventurous walks to take all year round. The 15 national parks across the UK also have free guided walks - a safe and fun introduction to the countryside.
Former railway lines have become fun and interesting walkways too. There are thousands of miles disused train lines, many of them very walkable - flat and traffic-free - good for bikes, wheelchairs and pushchairs too. The Isle of Wight, though only 21 miles by 13 miles, once had over 50 miles of railway lines. Many of these are now safe for walking. To find out more about railway routes, have a look at the Railway Ramblers. With train lines sprawling all across the country, there may be a local group near you.
This month we’ll also see Walk to School Week - 16-20 May. Living Streets - the national charity campaigning for safe and attractive streets - has found that less than half of schoolchildren walk to school. But we all know children would enjoy this extra time with their friends. Walking to school is a great way to encourage regular activities amongst children and neighbourly communities. Some towns are even introducing car-free days to give children more play spaces.
Taking up walking can be a charitable cause too. The British Heart Foundation are giving away free packs to organise a sponsored walk. On your own, or with your friends, around the park or join their London to Oxford trek. Every step helps.