How to Fit a 20 Minute Walk Into Your Day

May is National Walking Month, an event to encourage us all to ditch the car, lace up our trainers, and get walking more.  Whether it's walking to work, walking to school, or going for a stroll after dinner each evening, it's the perfect time for us all to get more active and give our health a boost.


Walking is the perfect way to keep active, get fit and improve your health.  Walking improves heart health and helps maintain healthy blood pressure, as well as boosting your mood and mental wellbeing.  Best of all it's easy, doesn't require any specialist equipment or training, and it's free!


Walking can help you lose weight, get fitter, save money, and even make new friends.  Walking for just 20 minutes a day (around a mile, dependent on your speed) can lower the risk of heart disease,  cancer, type 2 diabetes, stress and depression.  Walking with friends or in a group can also combat feelings of isolation, especially for older people.


Just 20 minutes a day is enough to make an impact on your health and fitness.  UK charity Living Streets is encouraging people to walk for 20 minutes every day throughout May, and to see what effect it has on their health and wellbeing.  You'll be amazed what a difference such small steps can make.

Just 20 minutes walk a day is enough to clock up the 150 minutes exercise per week recommended for good health.  But how can you make sure you have time, and inclination, every day for your 20 minute walk?  Read on for some ideas on how you can easily incorporate those 20 minutes into your day.


Work

  • Walk to work or back home afterwards.  If you live too far away, try parking at a car park that is further away from the office, or getting off the train a stop or two earlier and walking the rest of the way.
  • Suggest a walking meeting to colleagues and head to your local park or hit the streets.
  • Walk 20 minutes to the sandwich shop to buy your lunch, or 10 minutes there, 10 minutes back.  Brought your own?  Take your lunch outside and walk 10-15 minutes to find a suitable spot to eat al fresco.


  • Take a walk around the neighbourhood to find the best shops, or services.  Bring your dry cleaning or shoes that need repairing tomorrow and drop them off.
  • Turn your phone off, leave your iPad at home and really absorb your surroundings, a clear mind and fresh air might just solve that problem you've been struggling with, or give you your next great business idea.


Play

  • Take your camera and go on a treasure hunt around town, perhaps the quiet end of the city on a Sunday, and snap all the interesting buildings and views you can see.  Remember to look up, as Sterne said, so you don't miss interesting upper storeys, roofs and skylines.
  • Put on your best trainers and try a power walk for some serious exercise.  Tackle different surfaces and inclines for a more intense workout that will use different muscles.
  • Drop round to see a friend or neighbour, head across town to see family, maybe they'd like to continue your walk after a cup of tea?  A great way to have a chat and get some vitamin N at the same time.


  • Get (or borrow) a dog!
    • Walk to the local shops for your food shopping each day if you can, giving them and you a boost.  Or go on a bigger walk round town at the weekend.  Carrying all those bags works your arm muscles too.
    • Visit a new place each weekend, or twice a month, to keep your mind and body active.
    • At the weekend, go bigger with your walking.  Go for a walk in the woods or on the beach, take your friends or loved ones along for a fun afternoon or day out.  You could even head out on a longer hike or tackle a long walk like the Ridgeway or the South Downs Way a bit at a time.


    Family

    • Ditch the school run and start out earlier on a school walk instead.  Walk to School Week is 21-15 May, but why not make May walk to school month?  You'll all feel better for it, and have more time to chat without the distraction of TV and toys!
    • Encourage children to develop the habit of spending time in nature every day. Being close to nature and the elements, even in the rain, improves your wellbeing, enhances mood, improves self-esteem and gives you an endorphin boost.


      • Plan a family walk every weekend, or after dinner every evening.  It will give you all a boost, keep everyone healthy, and give you some much-needed family time.
      • Make a scavenger hunt for kids, either a piece of paper with some ideas written/printed on, or something simpler like a rainbow scavenger hunt.  Can they find a flower, a leaf, a door or whatever of every colour of the rainbow?


      Find some of these tips and more in the Living Streets Try 20 guide



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