Peak Walking Adventures Guide, Richard Tower, celebrates the benefits a digital age can bring, but says it’s important we take time out, and the ‘out’ means ‘outdoors’!…
“We live in a work culture which is often indoors and digital, a virtual space which enables quick interaction and some inspirational, fast-paced solutions to modern living.
But have our chair-based brains become fast-moving processors whilst our lungs, limbs and hearts remain idle, longing for a piece of the action?
And is this dissonance between brain and body one cause of modern-day stress and anxiety?
The Value of Exercise
Of course, exercise can play a vital role in reducing tension. Increasing our breathing and heart rate supports fitness whilst mobility is important for balance as we age. An active lifestyle benefits our cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Walking to get lunch, using stairs, visiting gyms and counting steps are all immensely helpful. It all feels good.
The Missing Ingredient
But there’s a missing ingredient, and we need it – ‘perspective’.
For me, the action of lacing up a pair of grippy boots and heading outdoors into the fresh air for a walk delivers a sense of perspective. Not instantly – it takes a few hours – but the sense of well-being it creates lasts for days.
Tips for Walking
So, here’s some tips on how to get the most out of your walk, be it 10k through a park or fields, or a 20k hike in the hills …
‘Fire Yourself Up’
Set off early, whilst it’s cool – ‘be bold and start cold’. Don’t wear all your essential layers unless you need to. Instead, do your warm-up exercises and head off at a good pace. Meanwhile, that anxiety-related hormone, cortisol, will reduce and those ‘happy hormones’ will kick in – serotonin and dopamine. After twenty minutes or so, you’ll be fired up!
‘An Hour of Now’
Once you’re enjoying your view or summit, take time to focus on what you see, hear and smell. I call it an ‘hour of now’. Look at the shape and size of the landscape around you, its contours and irregular rock formations; or if you’re in a valley the immense variety along a river or stream bank. How far can you see? ‘Home in’ on that yellow flower, smell its honey-coconut scent. Or listen for a bird – was that a rare cuckoo? Take time to ‘stand, stare and care’ Enjoy your wild world – it’s all we have and it’s precious.
Walking with someone else? Be curious and listen. People often demonstrate openness, interest and compassion when they’re walking side-by-side outdoors. Space, time and environment enable lifelong ‘footpath friendships’ to develop, shared anxieties are halved and, for some, loneliness discreetly avoided. If getting close to others is not your bag, simply sharing your outdoor observations can feel good.
‘Celebrate and Reflect’
When it’s all done, replay your day in your head, in a hot bath or warm bed – store it and celebrate your achievement. Today wasn’t virtual; it was cold, hot, still, breezy, stunning, smelly, wet, lung-busting, precious and fascinating. It was real. Whilst you were out there stretching your limbs and forging neural pathways, your diverted brain was quietly deleting ‘trash’ and gaining perspective. Maybe solutions for tomorrow’s meeting became a little bit clearer?
But hey, that’s tomorrow, just now you’re feeling good….and feeling sleepy.
For information about our Guided Walks visit: www.peakwalking.com
We also offer a number of wellbeing and team walks for Corporate or Private Guided Walk Groups. If you would like to find out more, do contact us