Walk this way…

Over the years walking has brought me great pleasure and if I’m honest, some pain too (usually in the form of blisters and aching limbs but also occasionally psychologically when I’ve found myself misplaced!). Gaining my Mountain Leader award was one of my proudest moments 🙂 Through walking I have learned a lot about myself and the great outdoors. I’ve had opportunities to walk abroad and to lead guided walks for families in the UK. For me it can be a place of sanctuary where I can be myself and re-energise. Walking is great for any ability and you don’t really need that much equipment to get started apart from a decent pair of footwear.

Walking has taken me to many places both at home and abroad

Here are 10 tips to help you get started and stay safe

1)      Look after your feet. Wear shoes that are supportive and suitable for the terrain. Sore feet make for a much longer walk! Comfy feet = happy walker 🙂

2)      Dress appropriately for the weather. There is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing choices. A few thin layers are far better than 1 thick jacket as you can adjust your temperature more easily. If you are likely to get hot and sweaty then synthetic materials are much better than cotton. You can get cheap wicking t-shirts and fleeces that are just as good as more expensive ones.

3)      Wear a hat (a warm one in cold conditions and a sun hat when it’s warm). A hat will make a huge difference to your temperature. You lose a lot of heat through your head so by covering it up you will feel much warmer. When it’s hot a sun hat will help to keep you protected and cooler as you are often a lot more exposed when out walking.

4)      Consider your safety. It you are going hill walking be prepared and take the right kit, plenty of water and some food. Leave your route plan with someone so if things do go wrong people know where to start looking for you.

5)      Know how to summon help: if something has gone seriously wrong and you need to get assistance from Mountain Rescue you should call 999 or 112 and ask for Police, Mountain Rescue. To attract attention on the hill give 6 short blasts on your whistle, wait a minute and then repeat. Keep this up until you hear someone return the signal (and keep going until they reach you).

6)      Check the weather forecast. This will help you decide on appropriate clothing (though it’s always worth packing a light weight waterproof jacket regardless of the forecast as weather can change suddenly and it’s often much cooler than you think when you reach the top of the hill). Be prepared to adjust your route if necessary. For example, if strong winds are forecast then perhaps you are best leaving your ridge walk for a calmer day and opting for a lower level route. Check out Mountain Weather Information Service (www.mwis.org.uk ).

7)      Take notice of your surroundings. Stop and appreciate the views, it can be very satisfying to turn round every now and then to look how far you have come, especially if you are walking up a big hill. Soak up the energy. Don’t wear headphones – this is for your own safety as well as the fact that you are missing out on the sounds of nature.

8)      It’s good to stretch to yourself but know your limitations. This includes your fitness level and also your skills and experience. Knowing the basics of map reading and how to take a grid reference are a good idea.

Knowing how to read a map is a really useful skill

9)      Respect the environment. Take your litter home. Don’t pee anywhere near or in water courses. Leave gates as you find them. Don’t clamber over walls, use gates or styles wherever available.

10)   If you are not confident at leading your own walks then join in with others. There are loads of groups or organised walks available such as local walking groups, the Ramblers, HF Holidays, U3A and National Trust. You could also hire a Mountain Guide who will be able to tailor a walk to your needs and provide a personal touch

Happy walking and I hope to see you on a hill sometime soon!

If you would like to brush up on your map reading skills or fancy your own guided walk get in touch to discuss how I can work with you.

Useful websites:

Walking Britain Useful information and list of walks of varying lengths and difficulties

Mountain Weather Information Service Check out the weather for the area you are going to

Safe in the Hills Really useful information provided by Kirby Stephen Mountain Rescue Service

Five Ways to Well-being: Be Active

Stepping stones to a better future

These 5 simple actions can improve our wellbeing, according to the New Economics Foundation report.

1.       Connect

2.       Be active

3.       Take notice

4.       Keep learning

5.       Give

In this second of a five part series I will be looking at ‘Be active’. It ties in nicely with National Walking Month…

“Be active – go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.”  New Economics Foundation.

Woods walk

Why be active?

Everyone knows that being active is good for your physical health. It improves heart health, reduces the risk of diabetes, helps to maintain a healthy weight and can improve the immune system to name but a few of the benefits. Being physically fit enables us to do the everyday things more easily; we can climb the stairs without getting out of breath or run for the bus.

 Another major benefit of being active that is now becoming more widely publicised is improved mental health. Being active and moving our body gets the blood pumping which in turn releases the feel good hormones, endorphins. They produce a natural state of excitement and pleasure.

Being both physically fit and having good mental health increases our resilience, or ‘bounce-back-ability’, so that we are able to cope better with the things that life throws our way.

I don’t have time

Many people say they don’t have time to exercise but in reality we don’t have time not to exercise. Taking a break actually makes us more productive. It’s counter-productive to sit at your desk continuing to work while eating your lunch. Having had a break you come back to work feeling refreshed and are more able to concentrate.

By finding ways to incorporate physical activity in to your day it becomes a habit. You simply need to prioritise it. I bet you always manage to make that important work deadline, and that’s because you make it a priority (even if you do have to stay up till the early hours getting it done). In Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People he identifies how the urgent stuff gets done first and often the important stuff is relegated to ‘later’. Unfortunately, ‘later’ doesn’t often come as there is always something else ‘urgent’ that needs attending to. Being active is important both for our physical and mental health and therefore it should be a priority. It’s highly unlikely we’ll sit on our death beds wishing we’d worked more hours!

Top tips

Being active doesn’t need to take long and doesn’t have to involve going to the gym (unless you particularly want to). Make an appointment with yourself and put it in your diary. The recommended amount of physical activity for an adult is 30 minutes of moderate exercise (enough to raise your heart rate) on 5 out of 7 days.  If you haven’t exercised in a while or finding it difficult to fit into your day this can be broken down into 3 x 10 minute or 2 x 15 minute chunks. As a well-known supermarket slogan say’s ‘every little helps’.

·         Take the stairs whenever possible rather than using the lift or escalator

·         Park a bit further away from the shops / office etc

·         Get off the bus a stop earlier

·         Do the housework to music – adding fun to a boring chore and being active at the same time

·         Take the kids to the park on the way home from school – great way of increasing quality time with your family too

·         Find an ‘exercise buddy’ – being active with a friend or loved one increases the enjoyment and you are accountable to someone else.

·         Take advantage of local events / festivals. E.g. there are lots of things happening through Walking Month* (link below)

·         Try out lots of different activities. When you find something fun you are more likely to stick at it because it’s enjoyable

·         Have an active break – go for a walk at lunch time, walk over to your colleague and talk face to face rather than sending an email, have a walking meeting

Challenge yourself

Another thing I have found inspiring is to set myself a challenge. I recently completed a 100 Day Physical Activity Challenge. My criterion was very simple – do something active every day for 100 days. Some days I skipped for 2 minutes (which is actually harder than you think when you are starting out!), or vacuumed the house, or  went for an enjoyable bike ride for a couple of hours or did a 10  minute home exercise routine (with tins of food as weights!). The 2 things that kept me going were planning ahead and not wanting to give up. There were a couple of times round the  60 – 65 day mark where I was really busy but knowing that I had come so far inspired me to keep going. I would look at my week ahead and think about what I could do each day then get anything ready the night before (I normally did my activity first thing in the morning so I started my day in a positive frame of mind and didn’t need to worry about trying to do exercise later when I may be feeling less inclined). Being active became part of my psyche. I was aware if I hadn’t done any activity that day and took action to make sure I did some before the day was out.  Since completing the challenge, although I haven’t exercised every day I have on most; it’s become a positive habit.

And another thing…

Being active is great for creative thinking and improving productivity. I often find that when I’m feeling stuck or not sure what to do next, if I go out for a walk the ideas start to flow.

If you are local to the South Yorkshire area join me on one of my free monthly Well-being Walks. You know it will be good for you J

Stepping stones to a better future
Stepping stones to a better future

http://bit.ly/2o9oavz for more information about National Walking Month


www.facebook.com/RNSenseofdirection for more information about my Monthly Well-being Walks