Going out for a daily walk has become an essential part of routines over the last year. It’s helped families keep active and improve mental health during challenging lockdowns. There are plenty of reasons to get out for a walk, but if it’s something you do every day, it can lose its appeal. To celebrate National Walking Month in May, here are ten ways you can keep your walk interesting.
1. Switch up your routine
Getting into the habit of walking and exercising is good, but if it feels too routine it can easily become a chore. If you follow the same route every day, simply switching up where you go, or even walking the route in reverse, can help keep your walk fresh. Alternatively, try changing the time of day you walk – an early morning stroll can feel much different to one following the end of a day’s work.
2. Create a local tour
Every area has something fascinating you can find on a walk or has some history to uncover. While we can’t travel far, it’s the perfect time to learn more about your local area. A walk that passes by the various statues in parks or buildings with an interesting past can offer some culture as well as allowing you to explore some of the things you may overlook day-to-day. If you’re not sure where to start, try searching your address on Historic England to find listed buildings, monuments, gardens, and more.
3. Go birdwatching
As you’ve been walking through parks, woods, or even urban areas, have you been paying attention to the wildlife? Britain has an abundance of wildlife, including over 600 species of birds. Taking photos, writing a list, or simply keeping an eye out for birds during your daily walk can add something new and help you appreciate the natural world. Common species you could see include robins, goldfinches, and starlings.
4. Set a challenge
Setting a challenge can give you a push to do that bit more and motivate you to stay committed to walking. If you want to improve your physical health through walking, a challenge can be especially useful. Setting out to go faster or that bit further can boost your fitness. Set a goal and break it down into smaller chunks, so with every daily walk you’re getting closer.
5. Let children lead the way
If you have children or can meet with family or friends in line with Covid-19 restrictions, letting them lead the way can take you to some unexpected places. They could take you off the beaten track you’ve been following on your usual walk to find a hidden gem.
6. Set up a “walk and talk” meeting
As social distancing measures ease in the coming weeks and months, we’ll have more freedom to meet family and friends. While you may be looking forward to going to the pub, out for a meal or watching the latest blockbuster in the cinema, don’t let your walking habit fall to the wayside. Planning walks with someone gives you a chance to catch up while still reaping the benefits of exercise.
7. Visit your local shops
Non-essential shops are expected to open from mid-April. Our local communities have become more important than ever in the last year and so “shopping local” during your walk can help support businesses. Heading to your high street can give your walk a new purpose.
8. Put on an audiobook or podcast
Reaching for the headphones as you head out is a useful way to multitask and unwind. As life begins to return to normal, you could find it’s difficult to fit in a daily walk with the other tasks you need to do, as well as the things you enjoy. Whether you put on an audiobook to lose yourself in, or turn on a professional development podcast, this step could help you gain a new perspective on things or manage your time more effectively.
9. Use an app to track your progress
If you’re not already using an app to track your walks, downloading one can help create a sense of competition, even if it’s only with yourself! The data, including your routes and times, can be fascinating as well, spurring you on to walk to new places and ensure that your walking habit sticks. There are plenty of free apps available to choose from, including MapMyWalk and Go Jauntly, both available for Android and Apple phones.
10. Go geocaching
Have you ever tried geocaching? It can turn your daily walk into a treasure hunt. There are thousands of geocaches (hidden boxes containing log books and other items) around the UK and you’ll be surprised how many there are local to you. You can set up a basic membership for free, download the app, and start searching for caches close to you. There is a range of difficulties and some that are part of trails for a whole day of exploring. Who knows what you’ll find?