May brings not only the hope of coming summer, but national walking month.
Every year organizations and individuals celebrate national walking month by getting outside and encouraging others to do the same. Whether on urban pavements or through leafy parks, walking month is about getting out there and giving walking a go.
The benefits of even the shortest of city walks are proven – even incorporating a brisk ten-minute walk into your day can quickly have an impact on your mental and physical health. If you don’t quite believe us, give it a go yourself and see what good it can do you!
This walking month we interviewed Venture Trust’s CEO and hillwalking enthusiast, Alastair Pringle about the positive power of going for a walk.
Why do you walk?
I suppose my first answer to the question ‘why do I walk’ is probably because I can. I’m very, very grateful that I can because I’m aware so many others can’t or have never been able to.
And my second answer is because I always have. I was brought up walking. All my childhood memories are of being at the back of the family, trailing along in hand me down wellies, daydreaming and often getting left behind.
And maybe last but not least, because I have to. I have a dog (wire haired Vizla called Fergus) and they force you out, but that’s a good thing too – it can be too easy sometimes (especially when it’s horrible out) to say ‘I cant be bothered’ but Fergus is sitting there looking hopeful and you just know when you are done you’ll come back feeling better from the fresh air in your head and lungs.
What does walking outdoors mean to you?
Being outdoors is my natural habitat. Especially in the mountains. If I have too many days in the city I can start to feel like a caged animal. There is something amazing about the ability to cover distances of land without a vehicle, or without any other assistance. You can almost feel that this is what you were born to do.
One of the things I love about walking is that it can be done entirely on your own, getting a bit of time out – or it can be very sociable with groups of friends where you can naturally float from person to person catching up on news.
How does walking benefit you?
Walking, like every form of exercise, clears the head, freshens your perspective, helps with sleep and overall wellbeing.
Why is it important to get outside and move no matter where you are?
I used to really like the Gavin Hastings TV advert (showing my age now) which was that it didn’t matter if you walked a mile, ran a mile, swam a mile …the key thing was getting out and doing it. It was a great bit of advertising because the message was simple, but it really hooked you in because it encouraged nearly everyone to believe they could do some form of exercise. There is so much evidence about the positive benefit to health and wellbeing of time spent (ideally active) in the outdoors.
What’s your favourite walk and why?
I’ve had the chance to do some cracking hiking in my time – in Africa, Nepal, Patagonia. I think my favourite of these was the Annapurna circuit in Nepal, because the landscape changed day after day and the Nepalese people were just amazing. We only knew on the last day that we would get over the pass at 17600 ft as it had been blocked by snow till then. It would have been a long walk back. Hail Bop (Comet) was in the sky and guided us on our way. It was magical.
At the other end of the scale, at weekends I really like a pootle over to Queens Park with the dog and then a slow wander home through the southside, picking up a slab of cake for my efforts to enjoy back home. Another of the great benefits of walking lots is being able to eat lots!
What would you say to encourage people to take more walks?
Building on what Gavin Hastings said – you can walk a mile, run a mile, swim a mile, daunder a mile, chat a mile – go on, Go ON!