No sooner was the ink dry on the September issue when the COVID-19 advice in Murcia was changing again. We contacted all of our members to let them know that we were delaying the start of the walking season.
The current situation is that no more than six people are able to gather, either indoors or out. Each walk usually has two leaders which would allow only four people to join and would create a real lottery of who could and couldn’t walk.
This is a very frustrating time for all of us and we are going to have to think about whether we will get the ball rolling this season. The disappointment will be felt most by those people who rely on the group for their only opportunity to walk with others. We have a number of people with partners who either can’t walk or don’t like it. Whilst it is possible to walk on your own, it is both safer and more enjoyable with at least one other person and WARM does offer opportunities to see different aspects of the wonderfully Murcian countryside.
I thought this month I would talk a bit about the benefits of walking and what people can do to get started. There is no doubt that walking is good for you.
Walking can improve how your heart and lungs work which helps your circulation and can lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It can also help manage your weight and improve flexibility and strength of joints and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Walking can improve your mood, reduce anxiety and help you sleep and like other physical activities, it releases endorphins which improve mood and helps fight stress and depression.
You could feel all of these benefits walking on your own, using a treadmill or walking on the spot in your house. Walking in a group, once we are allowed again, brings some added benefits and it is a very sociable activity that can help improve feelings of isolation.
Spending time in the outdoors for example by walking in parks, by the sea or in green spaces can also have a positive effect on mental health.
Getting started couldn’t be easier; just put on a comfortable pair of shoes or trainers and start walking. Most experts suggest 15 minutes a day to begin with. Try walking on the flat when you first start and then as you feel fitter build in short inclines. You will have to factor in the current rules about wearing a mask outdoors and also try walking early morning or late evening to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Take some water with you.
There are lots of places to get advice. You might have a friend who can join you or check out this simple guide https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/walking-for-health/ or https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/move-more/active-10
For smartphone users there is an app to support you.
Once you have got more mobile you will be able to think about longer distances, but more of that next time.