Sometimes, when we are out walking on our own, or even with our friends and family, our minds wander and we start to think about all kinds of things: what to have for dinner; problems at home or work; family issues; conversations that you can’t stop re-running in your head like a loop – the list goes on. Some people say that walking allows them to think more deeply with more clarity and helps them to find creative solutions to pressing problems they have on their minds. So here are 15 things that you might want to think about or do whilst you are out walking.
- Walking for Health & Fitness: By combining walking and bodyweight fitness movements you can create the ultimate fitness routine. Try doing push-ups, squats or lunges at various points in your walks. Add hills to your route when you want a more challenging walk. Combining walking hills and bodyweight fitness, you increase the number of calories you burn during each walk. Download a fitness app to your mobile phone and keep a record of the number of steps you take each day.
- Thinking/Mind Mapping: What is your most pressing problem? Stuck with a work/home-related dilemma? Family issues weighing you down? Walking has a soothing effect on the body and the mind. Some people find that the time they spend walking has given them more time to think and analyse problems in their lives resulting in better solutions! Taking a short walk each day can help to keep the brain healthy, supporting the overall resilience of cognitive functioning.
- Day Dream: Getting ‘lost’ in your own world helps you explore new ideas, promotes creativity, improves your memory, consolidates learning and helps you to reflect and restore your sense of self. We all need moments of quiet contemplation and reflection and we need to make more time in our busy lives to include them.
- Learn Something New: How about learning a new Language? Research suggests that our learning ability and memory retention improves because of the extra blood flow that walking creates. Maybe learn a new Skill via an audiobook? Or simply relax and listen to a podcast of your favourite radio programmes or actors reading new or well-known books? A good audio book will often entice you to just keep walking until you finish another chapter.
- Find the writer/poet inside you: You can voice your ideas into your phone. Most mobile phones have good voice-to-text apps that can turn your spoken words into text. Download the text when you get home and read it back to yourself! You might surprise yourself! Explore other creative forms of self expression
- Listen to Music: listening to music on your headphones whilst you are walking can be incredibly relaxing and inspiring. Walking and listening is another amazing opportunity to ‘lose yourself’ in your music. Let your surroundings inspire your choices.
- Photography: take a small camera or use your mobile phone to capture some of the things you see while you are walking. Check them out when you get home and maybe download a few that give you the most pleasure.
- Walk the Dog: (if you have one, or your friend’s dog if you don’t). What a great way to spend a few hours exploring where you live – or rediscovering where you live. Walking your dog has the added benefit of making you feel better about the daily exercise both you and the dog need. You also bump into other dog lovers/owners who enjoy walking too. And sometimes new friendships form just because you started walking.
- Enjoy your Environment: just being outdoors in the fresh air often just makes you feel better. Absorbing your immediate environment and looking at it closely, can often reveal much more than you ever noticed before. Appreciating the subtle changes to the habitat as the seasons move from one to another. Looking and listening to the vast variety of wildlife that surrounds you as you walk can be heartening and overwhelming. Just try it and see for yourself.
- Walk with Friends and Loved Ones: what could be better than spending quality time with the people you love and want to be with the most?
- Walk for Charity: most 5 or 10K road walks allow for walkers to walk at their own pace without pressure and they often take place on roadways that are blocked off to traffic. The best bit is that your efforts are rewarded by the donation you are able to give to your chosen charity.
- Have a Destination in Mind: it might only be to the end of your road, or just to the shops and back, but be clear and stick to it. If you have decided to go on a much longer walk, work out how much time it might take and set yourself realistic goals. We always feel better when we do what we say we are going to do.
- Discover, Explore, and Learn: Taking the same path or doing the same walk all the time can become tedious and more like a habit than a new adventure. Discover new paths, take a different route, ask other people where they walk and expand your walking experience. Most routines and habits make us feel safe and in control, but sometimes discovering something or somewhere new, can be really exciting and rewarding, revealing new treasures and a greater confidence in ourselves. Make a mental note of your new walk and try it again another time.
- Service to the Community: Sometimes it can be really upsetting to walk in beautiful places only to find that people before you have left some of their rubbish behind. It can often make us feel better if a few friends decide to go on a ‘Clean-Up’ walk together. Take some gardening gloves and a plastic bag with you on your next walk and pick up any cans, bottles, plastic waste or paper you see along the way. Keeping our countryside clean and rubbish free, is something we all need to take seriously.
- And finally – try having a go at some of the other things we have suggested on these Get Creative pages. Finding your name in nature or looking for letters from the alphabet in trees, roots, fallen branches, bushes, forest floors, will keep most families busy for the entire walk. The Nature Hunt and Stick Maze will keep children (and adults) occupied and engaged from the moment they arrive in a wood or forest. Foraging for food and then cooking what you find, is also a very exciting and interesting experience – but you do need to know what you are looking for and what is safe to eat before you start.
We hope you find will something that gives you and your family a great experience while you are walking – and keeps you exploring and returning to our local green spaces for years and years to come.
Please remember to send your photos, drawings, sketches, poems, stories, films and all the other creative things you have done to: email@example.com