Saturday, 24 March 2018

Not all walks are uphill

I know that I'm lucky to live in Cumbria and I'm sure that many folks imagine that means that I am out up the fells every chance I get, but the reality is that I have to earn a crust and writing sadly doesn't pay all the bills yet.  This means that I often spend a lot of time travelling the country, staying in strange hotels and waking up in the mornings not entirely sure where I am - so how do I fit walking into a life like that and, more to the point for some folks, why should I?

You don't need me to tell you that walking is good for you but I think that too many people see it as a separate thing - something which needs to be dressed properly for with a water bottle in hand - but it doesn't have to be that way.  I was utterly horrified (strong words but true) to read this report from Public Health England which identified that 41% of adults in England aged between 40-60 fail to walk briskly for 10 minutes each MONTH.  Not week or day but MONTH.

Walking can be something we all slot in to our daily activities, however busy we are.  To give you an idea of what my last two weeks have been like, here are the places I've visited...



My days are crammed with travelling, working and trying to find my hotel so how do I fit in walking?

  • I never take a cab - that's a lie - I think I did, once, about 4 years ago when I left my phone in a training room and had to get back there before they closed.
  • Google Maps is my best friend - it always gets me from A to B.
  • If I do take a tube/ bus/ train or tram, where I can I get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
  • If I'm waiting on a train station (this happens a LOT usually thanks to Northern Rail) I walk around the station rather than sit in the waiting room jabbing at my phone.
View along Grange station

View from platform 14 at Manchester Piccadilly
  • I take the stairs where there's an option or walk up and down escalators at stations.
  • At hotels or client sites I avoid lifts and take the stairs - sometimes, at hotels, the stairs can be very well hidden and I enjoy the challenge of figuring out where they are...
  • I pack everything into my trusty little rucksack so walking and taking the stairs is easier.
And here's a big confession - I don't always feel like doing it.  I deliver training courses and I am on my feet all day so when I get to the station only to find there's yet another 20 minute delay because yet another member of the train crew has gone missing (seriously Northern Rail, what are you doing with them all?) I have to fight the urge to slump disconsolately into a seat in the waiting room and crack on with another level of Candy Crush.  So why do I do it?  I could list below all the health benefits of walking but here are the very personal and specific reasons that I do it:

  • It helps me to unwind
  • It takes me away from crowds of people - I've never been good in crowds
  • I see things I wouldn't normally spot
  • I enjoy a little peace and quiet
  • I get some fresh(ish!) air - definitely fresh on Grange station but notsomuch in central London
  • It gives me ideas and inspiration
  • It takes my mind off the delay
  • It's a little spot of "me time" after a day spent talking to people
I feel so passionately that everyone who can should walk more that I started a campaign called #WalkOneStop - you can find out more about it HERE.  All I want to do is encourage everyone to walk a little bit more whenever and wherever they can.  

Each week there is a new story in the news about obesity, cancer risks and the general non-movement of huge chunks of the population - and yet just a few short walks could really help to turn things around - did you know for example that an 11 coach Virgin Pendolino Train is roughly 250m long?  All you'd need to do is walk the entire length 6 times (avoiding picking up a bag of crisps at the onboard shop as you pass) and that's a mile sorted.  

I know I keep banging on about walking but honestly, #WalkOneStop - it could save your life.  😀


PPS.  Here are some of the fab things I spotted while walking around just in the past 2 weeks...

Manchester

Manchester

Manchester

Wigan

Farnham

Farnham

Farnham

London

Wigan

Birmingham

Wolverhampton

Manchester - KIDDING - Leeds. 😁

Leeds

Leeds