May is National Walking Month, an annual reminder of the benefits of walking and spending time outdoors.
As always, we also include people who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids.
Walking is proven to be good for our minds, our bodies and the environment. Taking a brisk walk for just 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days per week, can reduce stress and blood pressure, improve sleep, boost your mood and help you manage your weight.
Many people associate meditation and mindfulness with sitting or lying down. If this doesn’t work for you, mindful walking is a great alternative.
Mindful walking can help us feel less distracted on our walks and pay attention to the world around us, rather than getting caught up in the stresses and worries in our heads. After a mindful walk, you should feel calmer, less stressed and more in touch with your surroundings.
There are different approaches to mindful walking and you can adapt the practice to suit your walk, whether you’re powerwalking through a city or strolling in the countryside.
Here are some exercises you could try on your next walk:
- Walk more slowly than normal
- Focus on the rhythm of your steps
- Take time to notice the sounds, sights and smells around you
- Notice how your body feels and your posture
- If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the rhythm of your steps
If you’re new to mindful walking, there are plenty of resources available to help you explore different techniques and get into a routine:
- Headspace, the mindfulness and meditation platform, has collated a list of exercises to try on a mindful walk. NHS staff can access the Headspace app for free.
- Private healthcare specialists Bupa have recorded a set of walking meditations, available on SoundCloud, to guide you through your walks.
- Mindful.org have recorded a 10-minute walking meditation guide, also available on SoundCloud.
- In this blog post, The Turning of My Wheels, a wheelchair user shares how he has adapted the practice of mindful walking.
Walking routes around CNTW sites
We have signposted walking routes at many of our sites to help staff and service users stay active. These are all between 1 and 1.25 miles, or about 20-30 minutes of walking.
These are the walking routes currently signposted on our sites:
St Nicholas Hospital – blue route
St Nicholas Hospital – yellow route
St George’s Park – yellow route