Walking comes free and for most people is a simple matter of putting one foot in front of another. However in urban London we are also getting less likely to walk far. SE16 is a great place to get out and enjoy the outdoors, the changing seasons and the different moods of the weather. If you have been more active in the summer, what about keeping it up by walking more often? Here Polina Liu – local and a personal trainer – offers some ideas for making your walking more fun, better for you and more varied.
“…Give yourself time and space to relax and enjoy nature…”
Walking is good for you
Being an aerobic activity, walking strengthens both your heart and lungs. It boosts your circulation and is good for your bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. It’s low impact and more gentle on your joints than running. Regular walking is great for the spine and also helps prevent varicose veins; basically it’s the antidote to our sedentary life behind desks and computers.
Increase your pace or add some shopping in a rucksack and it becomes a vigorous activity burning the same amount of calories as jogging or running and helping with weight loss. Walk with your chest open, hold in your belly and squeeze your bum muscles. That way, you’re working your upper-, mid- and lower-back muscles, engaging your core and training your glutes!
“…You might plan a longer walk for the weekend…”
Walking, just like any other exercise, helps your body to release serotonin, the natural feel-good chemical and endorphins, the happy hormones. As you walk, you raise your heart rate and, as a result, you feel stronger and happier. That’s what a good walk is all about! Remembering how you felt will help you to do it again and again, building up a new healthy habit.
“…an evening constitutional…Good for digestion, circulation, and you will sleep so much better!…”
Making walking a habit
Walking is much easier to implement in your daily life than attending classes or gym: walk your kids to and from school, walk to the shopping centre, walk to the next bus stop (or maybe skip the bus altogether?). In the evening take the chance to spend some you-time and clear your head – walk part of your way home or choose an “evening constitutional” – go for an after-dinner walk in Southwark Park. Good for digestion, circulation, and you will sleep so much better!
Start with 15 minutes, go around the block, walk to Paterson Park and back. In SE16 we are blessed with an easy access to the docks and the river bank. Not many Londoners can say they walk by the Thames every day – and an evening walk by the river can be truly magnificent!
“…Walk with your chest open, hold in your belly and squeeze your bum muscles…”
And when the weather is miserable, then take it as a challenge. Use those waterproofs, that’s what they are for!
Together and alone
Walking need not be solitary. You can walk with a friend in Russia Dock Woodland and catch up on the news. Or you might join a regular walking group like the Ramblers. Why not start a group of your own and make new friends? Get your family together one evening and use one of the great self-guided walks (see below) around the area to give yourself a history lesson at the same time. You might plan a longer walk for the weekend – lots of ideas below. Several people walking together can be sociable, competitive or just a great bit of fun.
If you are walking alone, why not use the time to listen to podcasts or audiobooks? BBC iPlayer has an enormous selection of 15 minute dramas and stories to download free – perfect for walks! Tying two activities together (one of which is exciting and the other one needs to become such) is a great way to build positive habits, and being entertained by your audiobooks during your daily walk works very well.
“…If you have been more active in the summer, what about keeping it up by walking more often?…”
Walk for yourself and for your health this autumn. Give yourself time and space to relax and enjoy nature. Encourage your family and friends to get out and explore our beautiful borough. Learn new things and enjoy the great city we live in.
Let us know how it goes and send us some photos of your discoveries and places that you like!
Walking in London – range of walks to download