The BHF gives us something to walk about

To mark National Walkers' Month Elizabeth Meade explains the benefits of walking and how we can incorporate it into our lives.

Elizabeth Meade
24th May 2021
The exact origins of National Walkers' Month are unknown. Many attribute the month's title to the British Heart Foundation, as many sites cite their 'Just Walk' fundraising programme, but nothing about the month is on the site. That said, do we really need a specific cause to walk more? According to many experts, walking is a great habit to maintain year-round.

I will disclose that my views of this topic are more favourable than most: I grew up in a town designed around walking. Many hours of my childhood were spent strolling through forest paths between neighbourhoods and buildings. But you don't need to have a jungle right outside your backyard to benefit from walking.

A 2007 study linked walking to a decreased risk of dementia in people over 65. A 2013 study compared its health benefits to that of running - 'Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities', said Paul T. Williams, Ph.D., who authored the study.

More recent research suggests walking has the ability to reduce your risk of early death and illness, reduce workplace stress and cut your carbon footprint. Dr. Barbara Händel from the Julius-Maximilians-Universität of  Würzburg even believes that walking enhances the processing of the peripheral part of the visual field: 'It is above all the peripheral visual input that provides information about the direction and speed of our movement and thus plays an important role for navigation,' Händel said on the university's website.

If you'd like to talk a longer walk, walking down the main thoroughfare, past campus, to Quayside before crossing one of the bridges on foot over to Gateshead is always interesting.

In Newcastle, there are many good walking spots for a leisurely stroll. Jesmond Dene has quite a few paths connecting different parts of the city, providing a little green space amid streets and buildings. Leazes Park is also a great spot to walk around and watch birds around the pond. If you'd like to talk a longer walk, walking down the main thoroughfare, past campus, to Quayside before crossing one of the bridges on foot over to Gateshead is always interesting. That said, these are just my favorites; there are plenty of other places to enjoy in Newcastle.

Of course, make sure to stay safe: watch out for cars, drink water, make sure someone knows where you are if you're going somewhere unfamiliar, stay alert at night and don't forget to look for sharks. (No, really.)

Feature image credit: Pixabay: @11417994

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
Science sub-ed and Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking.

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