Do you remember your Mum and Dad telling you to go and play outside because the fresh air is good for you? Have you said the same thing to your own kids? Well, it turns out it’s pretty much true, but not in the way that they thought.
Then it was all about not being cooped-up indoors. Now we know that the mere act of walking, just putting one foot in front of the other, works in a completely different way. It helps our brains to process and understand stress in particular. Neurons fire back and forth. The left side of the brain working the right side of the body and vice versa.
Whether you believe that life is more complicated now that it used to be doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that we understand why walking is good for us. We understand that something so simple can make a difference. At the Rainy Day Trust we have been running our MadMarchMillion as a fundraiser, getting small teams out there every day to run, jog or just walk their 10,000 steps a day, all adding up to 1 million steps by the end of the month. We did it last year and every team that took part said that when the month was over, they missed being compelled to get outside for a bit of exercise.
For me, walking has always been a bit of a sanctuary. It is a place where my mind empties of everything that is worrying it. I just take in what is going on around me; the wildlife, the weather, the road, the people going the other way. It is a way to buy some peace, not just from work or background noise, but from the stress and pain in my head. I’ve never hidden the fact that I need a multitude of coping strategies after my daughter died and walking and long-distance hiking are just that; a way to cope.
I can probably drag up a whole bucket-load of statistics and data from some PhD student somewhere, backed by some whizz-bang neuroscience on how it works, but you know what, for me it does work, I do relax and that is good enough. There are the physical benefits too which are just a bit more grist to the proverbial mill – you burn about 100 calories a mile, more if carrying a load or going uphill.
So, to put some value to that, a two-hour walk burns through a couple of pints of beer. Do that every day and, pretty soon, you will be toning up the muscles in your legs and generally feel better about stuff. You’ll feel better about yourself too which is incredibly important. The quiet benefit though is that your brain will be quietly processing whatever is niggling away at you and you’ll think clearer too.
You could join in our next MadMarchMillion if you wish and help us raise the money that we need, or you can just head outside and go for a walk. Maybe leave the car behind when you need to post a letter or buy the milk that you forgot earlier that day. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, just give it a go. You never know, you might just enjoy it! Blimey, now I do sound like my Dad!
* All businesses in the housewares sector should be aware of what the RDT can offer. Whether you can support us or use our services – which are there for your teams, please do find out more about is at www.rainydaytrust.org – or contact Bryan directly – firstname.lastname@example.org
Top: Byran encourages everyone in the housewares industry to get away from their desks, shops, or cars, and into the great outdoors for regular walks. Photo by Rachel Claire.