Over the last year and a bit since the pandemic first struck, walking has been one of my main activities. I’d argue it has kept me and quite a few others (relatively) sane.
At the height of lockdown in 2020 I would walk with my father and sister for between an hour to an hour and a half around West Kirby/Caldy/Hoylake/Greasby – anywhere within walking distance really. Different routes each day to vary it, but almost without fail every day around noon we would leave the house and go for a walk. This was almost certainly good for our physical and mental wellbeing at the time as it gave us a little bit of structure to the day when a lot of things we used to do had fallen by the wayside such as groups and activities that would normally be on a certain day of the week. Routine and structure to the day or the week is important for me personally, so having these walks each day was very beneficial to have a little something to look forward to when so many beneficial activities had stopped.
At other points when restrictions have allowed us to meet up I have met small groups of friends for a walk which has been nice. The social side of group walking is great. As you are busy chatting and catching up, you barely realise that the step count is going up and up so you can get a good walk in whilst barely noticing you have covered 3 miles as you are engrossed in conversation. Of course the calorie burn goes up as well which for me has been a good thing in terms of losing some weight over the last year or so.
You can also see some lovely scenery whilst out walking. It can make you more appreciative of where you live and grateful for the beauty of nature if you are walking in the woods or by the beach. At a difficult time for many people across the world during the pandemic, noticing and appreciating these things can be a good way to bring you more into the present moment which is often beneficial rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Very recently we had our first monthly group walk since the pandemic. It was lovely to see members of the group I had not seen for over a year due to the pandemic. As long as restrictions allow, it will be good to do these monthly walks again and to explore a little further afield hopefully to places such as Liverpool and Southport. Seeing new places and meeting new people through group walking does a lot of people good I believe and new friendships and experiences can happen as a result.
So overall I have found walking, but especially group walking, to be of great benefit over the last 15 months or so. It has been important for both my physical and mental wellbeing to do these regular walks and I would encourage anyone who wants to do some form of exercise to take up group walking as you get the exercise benefits as well as the social side which is vital in this day and age where we have been more isolated than ever before which is not good for our very social species.