We all know the benefits of walking, and it’s an activity that most older adults are already doing each day. If you are starting to lose a little enthusiasm for your daily walk though, why not try some of these suggestions to keep it interesting.
- When you cross the road, do five jumping jacks when you get to the other side.
- If you walk past a court, try jogging or running the whole way around.
- When you pass a bus stop do five squats.
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I wonder where that goes ….
Have you ever been out walking and come across a path or a street or walking track, and thought to yourself, “I wonder where that goes?” Well, now is the time to answer that question!
I was out walking this morning and came across a bike path where I asked that question. So off I went journeying into the unknown, and I came across this gorgeous little spot where the river opens wide, and there are a set of little rapids that create all sorts of noise and action, and I spent 10 minutes just watching the water flow over and over those rocks. So relaxing! And it’s only two minutes off my usual path!
So next time you are out walking, and you come to an intersection in the road or the walking track, try the path that you’ve never walked before. Who knows what you’ll discover!
Find a friend
Most things in life are better when they are shared – even chocolate shared with a friend is more fun! And it’s the same with exercise – sometimes you just don’t feel like it, so it’s good to have someone who will motivate you to pull on the runners and get outside.
Finding someone to go walking with has lots of benefits – it’ll keep you motivated and accountable, and hopefully push you to walk a little faster and a little longer. And as you know there are lots of social benefits to walking and talking too. It gives you a chance to share what’s happening in your life, and all that fresh air when you are talking about any problems will help you think clearly and feel better about them as well.
Forest Bathing – it’s a thing
Forest bathing is an ancient Japanese practice that is scientifically proven to benefit your health. It can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, boost your immune system, and generally leave you feeling better all over.
What is forest bathing? It’s just being out amongst the trees. Ideally, you’ll want to make time to stop and breathe – it’s not about hiking or climbing mountains of getting your step count up for the day – just be in the presence of these majestic beauties and appreciate them. Notice the details, calm your soul, and feel your body relax.
So, when you’re out walking – try and find a patch of trees in a nearby park, a nature trail, or even just someone’s front yard. Take a moment, appreciate, and take a few deep breaths before you move on. Tree hugging is optional!
Get the arms involved
Most of the time when you’re out walking, your arms are just swinging down by your sides. Why not change that, and get them up high, punching out out in front? The more your arms are working, there more your heart and lungs are working, and the more of a workout you are getting.
If you want to really maximise your workout time, hold your arms up to the side or overhead for as long as you can, or for a set distance like between two trees. If you can be punching out in front or overhead, or waving your arms around anyway you like, you’re going to up the cardio output and really feel the workout.
Add a burst of cardio
How many times do you walk the same streets? And go straight past those dead-end courts? Well this week, let’s get the blood really pumping and make use of those courts.
Each time you come to one, change gears and go for a little jog or run around the court, and then resume your walk on the main street. While walking is great, it’s also good to get the heart rate up a little higher through short bursts of cardio work. If you can’t run or jog, try just picking up the pace, striding out big steps, and making sure those arms are swinging big to really get the heart working.
Some of you might not be doing much during your day, but others are busier than ever. Whatever your lockdown experience is, it’s important that each day you make time to stop, take a breath, and be still. If you can do it when you’re out on your walk, even better.
There are so many changes happening at the moment, so many new things that we are having to adapt and adjust to, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So stop, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and get in touch with all your senses. What can you hear? What can you smell? What are you feeling?
Make time to just be. The rest of the world will still be there waiting for you when you open your eyes up again.
It’s mushroom season!
If you keep your head down on your walk this week, you are sure to find some mushrooms along the way. All this rain, and now the sun, and they are popping up all over the place – in front yards, under trees, along the nature strip.
Try and see how many different varieties you can see when you’re out walking. And when you find each one, get down close, and marvel at these beautiful little creations – they are so unique, so interesting, and worth taking just a moment to stop and appreciate.
Take the path less travelled
Walking on the footpath is easier, but it also can be hard on your hips, knees and feet because of the hard surface.
Walking on uneven surfaces is great for all the little ligaments and muscles all through your feet and legs and hips, because everything is having to work a little harder to keep you moving and keep you upright.
So, next time you go walking, and when there is a nice stretch of grass, try walking along the nature strip. It’s easier on your joints, and it keeps you agile as you are often having to dodge pit lids, uneven grass … and dog poo!
When you do walk on the grass though, make sure you look where you’re going – it is uneven ground, and we don’t want any rolled ankles.
The Melways Challenge
Print off a map of your suburb, take out your pen, and get walking. Mark all the streets that you have walked, and then pick a new street every day, or every week, to explore. Your challenge is to walk every street in your suburb!
This will give purpose to your regular walk, it might make you walk a little longer when you have to reach the streets on the edge of the suburb, and you’ll discover all sorts of new spots that you never knew existed!
Set yourself the task of walking up and down and through your whole suburb, and who knows what surprises you might find!
Do your bit for the neighbourhood
Snap, Send, Solve allows you to report a multitude of issues that you might walk past every day. Dumped rubbish, broken footpath, graffiti, fallen tree, overflowing bins, abandoned trolleys – these are all things that I have reported using the app. It is so easy – it will ask you to take a photo, confirm your location, describe the problem, and then it gets emailed straight to the relevant council and company.
So when you’re out walking next, have a look around and see if there are things that need reporting, and do your part to make the world a little better. You can find out more information and download the app from the Snap Send Solve website.
Stop and smell the roses
When you are out walking this week, keep an eye out for a rose or two – and every time you see one, and it’s near the footpath, make sure you stop, lean over the fence, pull that bloom close, and take in a slow deep breath. Close your eyes, block out the world, and just relax into the beautiful aroma that only a rose can offer.
If you have to cross the street, or walk around the corner, don’t miss any opportunity to stop and smell the roses. Let your body sink into it, forget what you were thinking about, and appreciate the simplicity of this blessing of nature.
Rain, hail or shine!
This week, try and find a body of water that you can visit regularly. I have a river about 20 minutes away from me, with a nice bridge over the top, and I love getting down there after a big downpour of rain to see what the water level is – it actually got me out of bed and out walking in anticipation of how big it would be, especially after 90ml of rain this weekend. And it didn’t disappoint!
So find some water – a creek, waterfall, pond, or river – that you can keep an eye on and watch as it rises and falls. And make sure you get down to it after a wet day or two!
We’re going on a bear hunt …
Have you seen them? When you’re out for your walk this week, keep a keen eye out for bears – they are popping up everywhere!
People all around the world are now putting bears and toys in their front windows, on verandahs, and at front doors, in an endeavour to make walking a little more fun for the kids – but it’s just as fun for the adults!
Next time you’re out walking, be on the lookout for a bear or two, and share the joy. Consider putting a toy or teddy bear in your own front window too – the kids (and adults!) will appreciate it.