In these tough times of doom and gloom with daily reports of job cuts, individuals need assistance to stay positive. The government’s message is that the only really successful way for the country to get itself out of this recession is if we have a positive outlook, willing to embrace new challenges. Taking up walking could be part of the recipe for individuals to regain their focus and motivation to beat the recession.
Walking has widely been acknowledged for improving individual’s well-being. Individuals who have faced depression and Seasonally affected disorder (SAD) have found that walking has helped them to cope and adopt a more positive outlook and focus on life. How is this possible? Well, walking exposes you to the natural ingredients for a healthy well balanced life. Firstly, getting out into the country lets you breathe fresh clean air. The increased oxygen concentrations in the air released by the surround plants creates a natural feel good factor. This is because the activity of walking increases the circulation, so more oxygen goes to the brain. This is particularly evident when you go hill walking, which the Peak District is naturally designed to accommodate. Hill walking is also a great way to burn excess fat calories as it is a slow energy release stamina exercise rather than a rapid explosive energy release exercise such as sprinting. One of the reasons individuals who are losing weight persist is because they feel healthier, more active and happier as they get slimmer. Finally, simply being out in the country surrounded by the beauty, natural colours and tranquility releases the brain’s natural feel good hormones – endorphins. These are the hormones that are also released during exercise, giving individuals the motivation and energy to persist. To some individuals they can be quite addictive, driving them to exercise regularly to get their daily fix of “feel good factor”.
There are many ways to start walking. If you have the motivation you can simply go out into your local park of which there are many in Sheffield. If you need more motivation and direction there are many walks being organized by groups over the coming months. For instance, the Ramblers are organizing a national “Get Walking, Keep Walking” event on May 30th to encourage everyone to get on their feet. The Sheffield 20 to 30s Walking group are participating in this event and using the date to launch a “Parents and Prams” themed series of walks focused at young families that are looking for flat, easy terrain walks where they have the opportunity to meet other families over a coffee and cake. From the 25th April to 4th May there is the Peak District Walking festival . There will be one hundred guided walks put on to suit all abilities and tastes. For instance there is the Bakewell taster trail – an excuse to find out what tastes better a Bakewell tart or a Bakewell pudding. For details of the walks visit www.visitpeakdistrict.co.uk.
If you don’t want to take up walking for yourself, why not take it up to raise money for a good cause. The Red Cross (www.redcross.org.uk)are looking for individuals to raise funds on their Peak District walk. This is an 8 to 11 miles being run on June 14th. It covers the great ridge, and runs from Edale to Mam Tor, taking in excellent panoramic views of the Hope Valley and the Vale of Edale. If this type of event takes your fancy you can also enter for the “Three Peaks Challenge” (www.thethreepeakschallenge.co.uk / www.actionforcharity.co.uk) – a 24 hour event covering the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales. From here the next step could be to raising funds walking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu (www.actionaid.org.uk/1613/press_release.html), a 13 day trek through the wilderness of Peru; walking the Great Wall of China (www.acrossthedivide.com/china.asp); or even walking to the Everest base camp in Nepal (www.charitychallenge.com/expedition_challenge.jsp?id=7). So the sky is literally your limit if you are motivated to take the first step outdoors. Further, individuals who take on these events often comment that they are life challenging experiences.
The Sheffield 20 to 30s walking group run regular events to introduce potential new members to walking. The next event is on Thursday 16th April from 5pm to 7pm at the Cream Café in Broomhill. As the group is affiliated to the Rambler’s these events are open to all ages. Following the introduction event, individuals will be invited to attend an introductory walk. Full details of these and future events can be found at www.sheffieldwalkinggroup.org.uk. The group also publish their full list of walks on the website. All are welcome to join the group on these walks, which are lead by highly experienced and competent walk leaders.