Purposeful Walks?

Amy Fleming shows 20 ways to add purpose to the clichéd prescribed walk. The Guardian, January 2021.

The weather is rubbish, there is nowhere to go and, bereft of the joys of spring, the daily lockdown walk can feel pointless. But, of course, it is not: the mental and physical health perks of exercise are immune to seasonal changes. We need to gallivant around outside in daylight so that our circadian rhythms can regulate sleep and alertness. (Yes, even when the sky is resolutely leaden, it is still technically daylight.) Walking warms you up, too; when you get back indoors, it will feel positively tropical.

But if meeting these basic needs isn’t enough to enthuse you, there are myriad ways to add purpose to your stride and draw your attention to the underappreciated joys of winter walking.

Aim low

Pic:Henry Xu, Unsplash

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Even Alex Strauss, the author of The Mindful Walker, has to tackle her resistance to get out on wild winter days. Sometimes, she says, “it takes a few mind games to get motivated. When it’s cold, when it’s grey, instead of saying you’re going to go out and do a 40-minute walk, allow yourself to say: ‘I’m going to do five minutes.’ Your brain is much less likely to resist that. Then, once you’re out there, it often turns into a longer walk.”

One of our favourite walkers — Julia Bradbury walks across Cornwall!

Spot winter birds

Swallow murmur

“It’s a big misconception that not a lot goes on in winter,” says the Springwatch presenter Megan McCubbin, who will be gracing our screens again from 19 January on BBC Two with her stepdad, Chris Packham, in Winterwatch. Plus, it is easier to spot birds in leafless trees. “There are some amazing winter spectacles to see, if it’s safe to do so within regulations. One of my favourites is the starling murmurations. The birds come together in their hundreds, if not thousands, in particular areas across the UK – for safety in numbers, as they’re going in to roost. They perform the most amazing synchronised movements in the sky.”

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One of our favourite walkers — Julia Bradbury walks across Cornwall!
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