May is National Walking Month and is well timed to fit with a change in the Welsh weather.
But why bother go walking when you can get everywhere by car nowadays?
Whether it be walking back and forth work or taking a hike in your local countryside on a Sunday afternoon, walking is a really good way to keep fit, an accessible activity for all the family and typically its free!
Walking is a really easy and stress-free way of incorporating exercise into your family’s daily schedule. There are plenty of ways that walking can fit into your lifestyle quite easily. For example it can be as simple as introducing changes such as walking the children to school or walking to work instead of taking the car. Think about gaps in your day when you have free time to do some extra steps. Take a walk in your lunch hour or after work but before dinner to build up a better appetite. It could be as simple as a walk around the local park or the block. It’s surprising how refreshing even a small walk can be, especially if you and the family may have been cooped up in a classroom or an office all day.
Walking has health benefits
NHS Choices highlights that regular walking can reduce the risk of illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. It is also a really great remedy for low mood and can decrease anxiety and stress levels. Like any form of exercise it has great benefits for your mental health as well as the physical.
Save some money
Introducing walking into your daily schedule may also have financial benefits for you, its surprising how much you might save on fuel if you walk instead of drive a few times a week. Furthermore as walking is free, you may save the pennys by swapping expensive weekend activities with a good walk.
No experience required
You don’t need to have a specialist knowledge of map reading to go for a walk in the countryside. Indeed, depending where you go, you can usually follow a footpath. There are three National Trails in Wales, so why not take a look at the National Trails website. Here you’ll find shorter circular walks based around these longer trails. There is also the Wales Coast Path, which has plenty of ideas and routes and even an app.
Some footpaths follow easy to follow routes such as old railway lines or canal towpaths. The Ramblers walking organisation website is a great resource if you are looking for walks for the family. There is a function on this page which allows you to use your postcode to search for suitable walks in your locality. The Ramblers also run group walks so if you’re unsure about going out alone maybe this would be a good option for you.
If you don’t fancy navigating the public footpaths why not simply go to your local park. There are many beautiful parks across Wales that are completely free to visit and can provide interesting sites for the whole family.
Make it a game
If you’re struggling to get the kids out into the fresh air and away from the games console why not make a competition of how many steps you can do? NHS Direct suggest 10,000 steps per day and although this may sound daunting its surprising how these can add up. There are lots of different apps you can use on your mobile phones to track roughly how many steps you take a day. Why not set up a chart in the kitchen for everyone in the family to update every day? Maybe there could be a prize at the end of the month. If you and the kids don’t have smart phones why not try The Ramblers pedometer challenge which will help you work out your steps without fancy gadgets.
Also check out our selection of games to play while walking. Although originally written for school walks, these 5 games can easily be adapted for family strolls.
So what do you need to get started?
A comfy pair of shoes is a really good place to start. If thinking about going out in the warm weather make sure to think of staying safe in the sun with a good hat, some sun cream and a bottle of water. If the weather takes a turn for the worse it may be worth investing in a waterproof coat. Carrying an extra layer is always a good idea.
If you’re going to be a little bit more adventurous and take a hike off the beaten track make sure your responsible. Make sure you know where you are going and how to get back. Carry a map and compass. Finally, always tell someone where you are going and what time you are likely to be back.
If you’re still unsure and want to do a bit more research before heading out walking then pick up a free family walking pack from The Ramblers. It’s available at a number of locations or on request via email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there are any other problems your family is having, then call our advisors on the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. They can help you to find organisations that can help.
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